British Journal of Nutrition

  • British Journal of Nutrition / Volume 109 / Issue 05 / March 2013, pp 777-784
  • Copyright © The Authors 2013. The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence <>. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.
  • DOI: (About DOI), Published online: 23 January 2013

Full Papers

Horizons in Nutritional Science

Nutrition economics – food as an ally of public health

I. Lenoir-Wijnkoopa1a2 c1, P. J. Jonesa3, R. Uauya4, L. Segala5 and J. Milnera6

a1 Danone Research, RD 128, 91767, Scientific Affairs, Palaiseau, France

a2 Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands

a3 Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada

a4 Institute of Nutrition, INTA University of Chile, Santiago, Chile

a5 Health Economics and Social Policy Group, Sansom Institute of Health Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia

a6 Nutritional Science Research Group, Division of Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA


Non-communicable diseases (NCD) are a major and increasing contributor to morbidity and mortality in developed and developing countries. Much of the chronic disease burden is preventable through modification of lifestyle behaviours, and increased attention is being focused on identifying and implementing effective preventative health strategies. Nutrition has been identified as a major modifiable determinant of NCD. The recent merging of health economics and nutritional sciences to form the nascent discipline of nutrition economics aims to assess the impact of diet on health and disease prevention, and to evaluate options for changing dietary choices, while incorporating an understanding of the immediate impacts and downstream consequences. In short, nutrition economics allows for generation of policy-relevant evidence, and as such the discipline is a crucial partner in achieving better population nutritional status and improvements in public health and wellness. The objective of the present paper is to summarise presentations made at a satellite symposium held during the 11th European Nutrition Conference, 28 October 2011, where the role of nutrition and its potential to reduce the public health burden through alleviating undernutrition and nutrition deficiencies, promoting better-quality diets and incorporating a role for functional foods were discussed.

(Received October 01 2012)

(Revised October 18 2012)

(Accepted October 18 2012)

(Online publication January 23 2013)

Key Words:

  • Nutrition economics;
  • Health economics;
  • Public health;
  • Cost-effectiveness


c1 Corresponding author: I. Lenoir-Wijnkoop, E-mail:


  Abbreviations: QALY, quality-adjusted life years; NCD, non-communicable disease; PAR, population attributable risk