Public Health Nutrition

Nutrition and health

Development of a nutritionally balanced pizza as a functional meal designed to meet published dietary guidelines

Emilie Combeta1, Amandine Jarlota1, Kofi E Aidooa2 and Michael EJ Leana1 c1

a1 Human Nutrition, School of Medicine, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Walton Building, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Castle Street, Glasgow G4 0SF, UK

a2 Food Research Laboratory, Department of Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK


Objective To develop a worked example of product reformulation of a very popular ‘junk food’ to meet nutritional guidelines for public health in a ready meal.

Design Indicative survey of popular Margherita pizzas, followed by product reformulation, applying dietary guidelines to generate a single-item pizza meal containing 30 % daily amounts of energy and all nutrients. An iterative process was used; first to optimize nutrient balance by adjusting the proportions of bread base, tomato-based sauce and mozzarella topping, then adding ingredients to provide specific nutrients and consumer tasting.

Setting Urban areas of contrasting socio-economic status.

Subjects Untrained unselected adults (n 49) and children (n 63), assessing pizza at tasting stations.

Results Most commercial pizzas provide insufficient information to assess all nutrients and traditional Margherita pizza ingredients provide insufficient Fe, Zn, iodine, and vitamins C and B12. Energy content of the portions currently sold as standard range from 837 to 2351 kJ (200 to 562 kcal), and most exceed 30 % Guideline Daily Amounts for saturated fat and Na when a 2510 kJ (600 kcal) notional meal is considered. The ‘nutritionally balanced pizza’ provides the required energy for a single-item meal (2510 kJ/600 kcal), with all nutrients within recommended ranges: Na (473 mg, ∼45 % below recommended level), saturated fat (<11 % energy) and dietary fibre (13·7 g). Most adults (77 %) and children (81 %) rated it ‘as good as’ or ‘better than’ their usual choice.

Conclusions Nutritional guidelines to reduce chronic diseases can be applied to reformulate ‘junk food’ ready meals, to improve public health through a health-by-stealth approach without requiring change in eating habits.

(Received May 20 2013)

(Revised August 12 2013)

(Accepted August 25 2013)

(Online publication October 28 2013)


  • Diet;
  • Nutritional analysis;
  • Pizza;
  • Reformulation;
  • Consumer acceptability;
  • Healthy meals;
  • Nutrient standards


c1 Corresponding author: Email