Affordable and healthy national food basketsAffordable and healthy national food baskets

The full title of this study is: Healthy national food baskets (HNFBs) with optimized affordability for prevention of non-communicable diseases in Europe and Central Asia.

The prevalence of obesity and its associated non-communicable diseases (NCDs) contributes to the “double burden” of malnutrition, which consists of both obesity and undernutrition. Undernutrition including micronutrient deficiencies leads to retardation of child growth and cognitive development.

To reduce the prevalence of double burden of malnutrition, a fully nutritious health-promoting diet needs to be available, especially for risk groups and individuals with a low socioeconomic status. National authorities are in need of establishing a diet based on nationally available, affordable food that is fully nutritious and so guarantees the best-possible health and well-being within a limited budget.

About the project and the results

The current study aims to develop models and tools to support national authorities in solving this problem. The aim is to calculate a health-promoting (“healthy”) diet that 

  • prevents nutrient deficiencies (fully nutritional food basket, FNFB) to promote well-being, normal growth and appropriate cognitive development, 
  • prevents nutrition-associated non-communicable diseases at an affordable cost. 

These goals can be achieved by provision of a model consisting of a spectrum of nationally available foods (healthy national food basket, HNFB).
The FNFB as a basis guarantees coverage of all recommended intakes of nutrients, while the HNFB provides on top of this foods as recommended by the national dietary guidelines.


It appears that many national authorities in Europe do not have an appropriate method for calculating their national HNFBs similar to that how it is used in the USA. Such HNFBs for European countries can be calculated by application of the “linear programming” algorithm, which delivers exactly one optimized solution for its composition. However, key challenges also remain to a achieve a high social acceptability and to build the food baskets from locally available foods with a minimum of greenhouse gas emissions.

Collaborating partners

  • WHO Regional Office for Europe 
  • UMR NORT (Nutrition, Obésité et Risque Thrombotique), Aix-Marseille Université, Marseille, France
  • European Community of Consumer Cooperatives (EURO-COOP), Brussels
  • Nuffield Department of Population Health of the University of Oxford and Director of the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research, Oxford, UK
  • Copenhagen University, Institute of Food and Resource Economics
  • National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark
  • Danish Food Informatics (DFI)
  • National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  • Food Policy Division, University of Sydney and The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, Australia

Photo from a market showing some of the possible ingredients for the national food basket


The study is organized into three levels. Level 2 and 3 are depending on external funding of the study. 

December 2013- June 2015
Level 1: Advisory board establishment, food basket methodology/tool development, and application writing for Horizon 2020. 

June 2015-Dec 2016
Level 2: Implementation of the methodology developed in Phase I; Development of fully nutritious, health-promoting, and affordable food baskets that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for Europe.

Dec 2016-Dec 2018
Level 3: Economic and feasibility analysis, final development of advocacy tools and development of policy strategy.

Research and development unit and institute

The project is part of the reasearch unit Food and Nutrition to Vulnerable Groups at the Institute of Nutrition and Midwifery

​Læs mere på UC-Viden: Alexandr Parlesak og Aileen Robertson


Aileen Robertson

Uddannelseskonsulent, ph.d.

Tlf.: +45 24296273

Alexandr Parlesak

Lektor, ph.d.

Tlf.: +45 24296275