a1 Department of Agricultural Economics, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium
a2 Centre for Research on Customer Relations in the Food Sector, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
a3 Department of Agricultural and Food Economics, University of Reading, Reading, UK
a4 Department of Statistics, Alma Mater Studiorum-Universita Di Bologna, Bologna, Italy
a5 Istituto Nazionale di ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione, Rome, Italy
a6 Institute of Public Health, The Jagiellonian University Medical College, Cracow, Poland
a7 European Food Information Council asbl, Brussels, Belgium
a8 Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health, and School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, London, UK
Objective To identify and assess healthy eating policies at national level which have been evaluated in terms of their impact on awareness of healthy eating, food consumption, health outcome or cost/benefit.
Design Review of policy documents and their evaluations when available.
Setting European Member States.
Subjects One hundred and twenty-one policy documents revised, 107 retained.
Results Of the 107 selected interventions, twenty-two had been evaluated for their impact on awareness or knowledge and twenty-seven for their impact on consumption. Furthermore sixteen interventions provided an evaluation of health impact, while three actions specifically measured any cost/benefit ratio. The indicators used in these evaluations were in most cases not comparable. Evaluation was more often found for public information campaigns, regulation of meals at schools/canteens and nutrition education programmes.
Conclusions The study highlights the need not only to develop harmonized and verifiable procedures but also indicators for measuring effectiveness and success and for comparing between interventions and countries. EU policies are recommended to provide a set of indicators that may be measured consistently and regularly in all countries. Furthermore, public information campaigns should be accompanied by other interventions, as evaluations may show an impact on awareness and intention, but rarely on consumption patterns and health outcome.
(Received March 11 2011)
(Accepted October 27 2011)
(Online publication November 29 2011)