The NOURISHING index outlines the status of nutrition policy in 30 European countries, and can be used by stakeholders to promote ways to reduce overweight and obesity.
Government action to create environments where people find it easy to eat a healthy diet is essential to prevent overweight and obesity, and related non-communicable diseases, including cancer.
Our nutrition policy index gives an at-a-glance assessment of how well countries in Europe are doing in enabling people to eat healthy diets. It is produced by rating and comparing countries based on the quality of their policy design in different areas.
We have also produced an index focusing on physical activity policy: read our MOVING policy brief.
NOURISHING policy index FAQs
What does the index show?
The NOURISHING policy index was developed to rate the status of nutrition policy in different countries. It combines a large amount of information in a single assessment of the status of each policy area of the NOURISHING framework. Results are displayed by country and policy area, allowing comparisons between countries.
How was the index produced?
The index was produced by benchmarking nutrition policy actions against aspirational standards in 30 European countries. The tools were applied on complete datasets of nutrition policy actions taken by a national government. Such datasets were collected through a comprehensive scan methodology for 30 European countries and are available in our NOURISHING database.
learn how well or poorly their country is doing in nutrition.
see the policy status in Europe and compare their country with other European countries.
identify weaknesses in the policy status that can inform advocacy efforts to improve the policy environments, either in their country or across Europe.
Is the index up to date?
The results are reflective of the nutrition policy status as of May 2023. The index provides an overview of the status of policies at a certain time and would have to be repeated to assess if there are changes in policy and/or new policies available.
Can the index explain links between obesity rates and nutrition policy in a country?
The index allows people to explore relevant European and national policies, and the benchmarking tool assesses the overall level of government action in nutrition. Our NOURISHING tools cannot indicate causality between any observed trends in obesity rates and related behaviours across countries and policy actions, but it can generate hypothesis to be explored with further robust studies.
What are the limitations of the index?
These results present a quality assessment of current action at national government level. As such, they cannot draw a causal link between the quality of policy design and any changes in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the absence of repeat benchmarking. Further, they do not consider extent of implementation, or any action taken by regional, provincial or local governments. When used in context, these findings need to be judged carefully against a situational assessment in each country.
Some suggested questions to contextualise findings:
Are countries that have taken action across all areas of the NOURISHING framework doing so in response to a lack of enabling conditions for healthy behaviours?
Conversely, will countries with an existing enabling environment for healthy behaviours be likely to take less action?
Do findings focused on the national level miss action at provincial, regional or local levels?
How do you know the right elements of design are used to assess policies?
We reviewed the literature, followed by rigorous expert consultation, to develop the NOURISHING benchmarking tool. Any benchmarking tool has an element of subjectivity, but the process of putting together the tool drew heavily on existing evidence. Further, World Cancer Research Fund International and CO-CREATE researchers carried out the policy scan and assessments independently from national governments.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 774210. This content reflects only the authors’ views and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.