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Scientific Recommendations for Healthy Eating Guidelines in Ireland


Food Safety Authority of Ireland

Subject Keywords: Healthy eating
Topic: Obesity
Type: Report
Region: Republic of Ireland

Over the last two decades, adults, teenagers and children living in Ireland have experienced a dramatic rise in obesity. This brings serious health consequences due to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease, and stroke), as well as diabetes and some cancers which are associated with being overweight. At the same time, advances in nutritional science indicate that optimal intake levels of vitamins, minerals and fibre may protect against these long-term diseases.
The world-wide rise in obesity levels coupled with the recognition of the protective effects of optimal nutrient intakes have prompted other
countries (such as the United States and Canada) to completely revise their ‘healthy eating guidelines’. These countries now have new ‘food
guides’ which provide for optimal nutrition within the limits of calorie requirements for a healthy weight. These developments led to the
recognition that Ireland’s ‘food guide’ on healthy eating (‘food pyramid’, 1993–2010) needed a similar revision, particularly as it was not originally designed to provide specific guidance on calorie requirements
The work described in this report began in 2006 when the Department of Health and Children asked the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) to review the Irish ‘healthy eating guidelines’ and the ‘food pyramid’. The revised ‘healthy eating dietary guidelines’ produced by the steering committee were submitted to the Department of Health and Children in June, 2009. Further work continued in the FSAI on critical research relating to ‘healthy eating guidelines’ including a revision of portion sizes and an assessment of the affordability of healthy eating in Ireland.
Part 1 of this report describes this research and concludes with an overview of the outstanding issues that need to be addressed. This incorporates recommendations for completing and implementing the newly revised ‘healthy eating guidelines’ in Ireland. The FSAI has completed some work on the graphic design of the new guidelines, which are outlined in Part 2 and Part 3 of this report. Finally, it should be remembered that healthy eating can be achieved using countless different food choice combinations. Variations in food choice due to age, culture, tradition or even socio-economic circumstances can all be accommodated in a healthy diet. Therefore, the work in this report, which only focuses on mainstream food patterns common in Ireland, should be viewed as just a first step in providing guidance on healthy food choice.
In summary, this report highlights the need for a revision of the ‘food pyramid’, 1993-2010. The FSAI is publishing this report to facilitate more effective health promotion and disease prevention in Ireland.





Rights: © Food Safety Authority of Ireland
Suggested citation:

Food Safety Authority of Ireland. (2011) Scientific Recommendations for Healthy Eating Guidelines in Ireland [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 16th October 2019].


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