Heath Beacon

Diet & Nutrition

Health and diet articles

Here are some key facts

  • A healthy diet can protect you from malnutrition of all kinds, as well as other non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
  • A poor diet and insufficient physical activity can pose a global health risk.
  • Healthy dietary habits begin early in life. Breastfeeding fosters healthy growth, cognitive development, as well as long-term health benefits. This includes a reduced risk of being overweight or obese later in life.
  • Calorie intake should be balanced with energy expenditure. To prevent unhealthy weight gain, total cholesterol should not exceed 30%. Intake of saturated fats should be less than 10% of total energy intake, and intake of trans-fats less than 1% of total energy intake, with a shift in fat consumption away from saturated fats and trans-fats to unsaturated fats, and towards the goal of eliminating industrially-produced trans-fats.
  • A healthy diet includes limiting your intake of sugars to less that 10% of your total energy intake. For additional health benefits, a further reduction of less than 5% is recommended.
  • Limiting salt intake to 5 g per person (equivalent to 2 g of sodium per day) is a good way to avoid hypertension.
  • WHO Member States have agreed that the world’s salt intake will be reduced by 30% by 2025. The WHO has also committed to stopping the rise of obesity in both adults and children by 2025.


Health and diet articles maintain Healthy eating habits are important for preventing malnutrition. The shift in diet patterns has been caused by increased consumption of processed foods, urbanization and lifestyle changes. People are now eating more high-energy, fats, sugars, salt/sodium foods, and not enough fruits and vegetables.

You will have to consider your individual needs and preferences. The exact composition of a healthy, balanced diet will vary depending on individual characteristics, such as age, gender and lifestyle. But the fundamental principles of healthy diet are the same.

For adults

The following are essential components of a healthy diet (

  • Fruit, vegetables, legumes (e.g. lentils and beans), nuts and whole grains (e.g. unprocessed maize/millet, oats/wheat, and brown Rice
  • At least 400 g (i.e. Five portions (or at least 400g) of fruit or vegetables each day, excluding sweet potatoes, potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots.
  • Free sugars account for less than 10% total energy intake. This is 50g or about 12 level teaspoons for someone who consumes about 2000 calories per daily. But, it is best to have no more than 5% total energy intake. All sugars added by the manufacturer, consumer, or cook to foods and drinks are free sugars.
  • The fats make up less than 30% percent of total energy intake. Unsaturated fats (found in fish, avocado, and nuts, and in sunflower, soybean, canola, and olive oils) are preferable to saturated fats (found in fatty meat, butter, palm, and coconut oil, cream, cheese, ghee, and lard) and trans-fats of all kinds, including both industrially-produced trans-fats (found in baked and fried foods, and pre-packaged snacks and foods, such as frozen pizza, pies, cookies, biscuits, wafers, and cooking oils and spreads) and ruminant trans-fats (found in meat and dairy foods from ruminant animals, such as cows, sheep, goats, and camels). It is recommended that saturated fat intake be kept below 10%, and total fats under 1%. In particular, industrially-produced trans-fats are not part of a healthy diet and should be avoided.
  • You should consume less than 5 g (equivalent in one teaspoon) of salt per day.

For infants & young children

In the first 2 years, optimal nutrition promotes healthy growth and cognitive development. It reduces the chance of being overweight or obese later in life and may even help prevent you from developing NCDs.

Although advice for healthy eating habits is the same for adults and children, there are some important elements to keep in mind:

  • Breastfeeding should be the only option for infants during their first 6 months.
  • Breastfeeding should continue for infants until the age of 2 years.
  • Breastmilk should be complemented by a range of nutritious, safe and adequate foods beginning at 6 months. Supplemental foods should not include salt and sugar.
  • Health and Diet Articles

Advice for healthy eating

Fruits and vegetables

Consuming at least 400g (or five portions) of fruits and veggies per day can reduce your risk of developing NCDs.

It is possible to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables by:

  • always including vegetables in meals;
  • Snacks of fresh fruits and raw vegetables
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season
  • Enjoy a variety fruits and vegetables.


According to Health and diet articles, it is possible to avoid unhealthy weight gain by reducing the total fat intake to below 30% of the total energy intake. You can reduce your risk of developing NCDs by:

  • Saturated fats should be reduced to 10% of the total energy intake
  • Reducing trans-fats below 1% of total calories intake
  • Saturated fats and fats should be replaced by unsaturated fats. In particular, replace them with polyunsaturated butters.

Fat intake, especially saturated fat and industrially-produced trans-fat intake, can be reduced by:

  • Steaming or boiling the food instead of frying is a better option.
  • You can replace butter, lard, or ghee, with oils rich polyunsaturated fats such as soybean, canola, corn, safflower and sunflower oils.
  • eating low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and reducing visible fat in meat.
  • Pre-packaged snacks, foods, and baked foods should be limited (e.g. doughnuts, cakes, pies, cookies, biscuits, and wafers) that contain industrially-produced trans-fats.

Salt, sodium, potassium

Many health and diet articles maintain people consume too much sodium from salt, which is equivalent to an average intake of 9-12g per day. They also don’t get enough potassium (less that 3.5g). High blood pressure is caused by high sodium intake and low potassium intake. This can increase the risk of developing heart disease or stroke.

Reduce salt intake to less than 5 g daily could save approximately 1.7 million lives every year.

Many people are unaware of how much salt they eat. Many countries have high levels of salt from processed foods. Pre-made meals, salami, bacon, and salami; cheese; salty snacks; and foods that are often consumed in large quantities (e.g. bread). Salt is added to foods when they are being cooked (e.g. Salt can also be added to food during cooking (e.g. stock cubes or soy sauce), or at the point where it is consumed (e.g. Table salt

Salt intake can also be reduced with:

  • Limiting high-sodium condiments and salt (e.g. Soy sauce, fish sauce and bouillon are all good choices for cooking and preparing meals.
  • You should not have salt or high-sodium condiments on your table.
  • Reduce salty snack consumption
  • Select products with lower sodium.

Food manufacturers sometimes alter their recipes to lower sodium levels. It is important that people check the nutrition labels of any product they purchase or consume before making any purchases.

Potassium can help to reduce the effects of sodium overdose on blood pressure. Consuming fresh fruits and vegetables can increase your potassium intake.


Children and adults should have a lower intake of sugars than 10%. Additional health benefits would be provided by a reduction of less than 5% in total energy intake.

Tooth decay is more common when there are no sugars in your diet. Overeating and drinking too many calories can cause obesity and unhealthy weight gain. Recent evidence suggests that sugars have a negative effect on blood pressure and serumlipids. This means that a decrease in sugar intake can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

The following tips can help to reduce sugar intake:

  • Limiting consumption of foods or drinks high in sugars (e.g., sugary snacks, sugar-sweetened beverages and candies). All types of beverages containing no sugar – this includes carbonated or noncarbonated soft drinks and fruit juices or drinks.
  • Choose fresh fruits and raw vegetables for snacks over sugary snacks.

How to promote healthy diets

Over time, diet changes due to many socio-economic factors. These factors interact in complex ways to influence individual dietary patterns. These factors include income and food prices, which will impact the availability and affordability healthy foods, individual preferences and beliefs as well cultural traditions and geographic and environmental aspects, including climate change. Promoting healthy food environments, including food systems that encourage a varied, balanced, and healthy lifestyle, requires participation from multiple sectors and stakeholders. This includes the government as well as the private and public sector.

Governments play a crucial role in creating healthy food environments for people that enable them to adopt healthy dietary habits. The following are examples of policy-makers who have taken effective steps to create a healthy eating environment:

  • To promote a healthy diet, and protect the public’s health through :
    • Producers and retailers are being offered more incentives to sell, grow and use fresh fruits and veggies;
    • The food industry should be less inclined to produce processed foods with high amounts of saturated fats. transfats, sugars, salt, and sodium.
    • encouraging reformulation of food products to reduce the contents of saturated fats, trans-fats, free sugars, and salt/sodium, with the goal of eliminating industrially-produced trans-fats;
    • Implementing the WHO guidelines on marketing foods and non-alcoholic beverages for children.
    • Establishing standards to promote healthy eating habits by making sure that there are healthy, nutritious and safe foods available at all levels of the system, including schools, workplaces, and other public institutions.
    • Explore regulatory and voluntary instruments (e.g. Marketing regulations and nutrition labeling policy, and economic incentives and disincentives To promote healthy eating, taxation and subsidies
    • Promoting transnational, local, and national food services and caterers to improve the nutritional value of their foods. This includes ensuring affordability and availability of healthy choices. It also requires that portion sizes be reviewed and pricing.
  • To encourage consumers to demand healthy food and nutritious meals,
    • Promotion of healthy eating habits by consumers
    • Develop school policies and programmes to encourage healthy eating habits in children;
    • Teaching children, teens, and adults nutrition and healthy dietary habits.
    • Schools should encourage culinary skills;
    • Supporting point of sale information, including nutrition labels that ensure accurate, standardized and understandable information on nutrients in foods (according the Codex Alimentarius Commission guidelines). Front-of-pack labeling is also available to assist consumers understanding.
    • Provide nutrition and dietary advice at primary healthcare facilities
  • Promotion of appropriate infant and young-child feeding practices by:
    • Implementing the International Code of Marketing of breast-milk Substitutes (and any subsequent World Health Assembly resolutions);
    • Implementing policies to protect working mothers;
    • Supporting breastfeeding in the community and health services, including the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative.

WHO Response

In 2004, the Health Assembly approved the WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity, and Health. The strategy called for governments, WHO and international partners to act at local, regional and global levels to support healthy diets.

In 2010, the Health Assembly adopted a number of recommendations regarding the marketing of non-alcoholic beverages and food to children. These recommendations are intended to help countries design new policies and improve existing ones to reduce the harm to children from the marketing of non-alcoholic beverages and foods to children. WHO also created tools specific to each region (e.g. regional nutrient profile model) that can help countries implement the marketing suggestions.

The Health Assembly adopted in 2012 a “Comprehensive Implantation Plan on Maternal-Infant and Young Child Nutrition” which included six global nutrition targets that were to be met by 2025. These include the decrease of stunting, wasting and overweight in children, improved breastfeeding and the reductions of anemia as well as the reductions of low birth weight and anemia.

2013 was the year that the Health Assembly health and diet articles agreed on nine global voluntary targets to prevent and control NCDs. These include a halting of the rise in obesity and diabetes and a 30% relative decrease in salt intake by 2025. “Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable diseases 2013-2020” provides guidance and options for Member States, WHO and other United Nations agencies in achieving the targets.

The rapid rise of obesity among children and infants in many countries led to the creation of the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity by WHO in May 2014. In 2016, the Commission presented a number of recommendations that could be used to combat childhood and adolescent obese in various contexts.

In November 2014, WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations organized the Second International Conference on Nutrition. ICN2 adopted the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Framework for Action. These Health and diet articles’ recommendations include a series of policy options and strategies that promote healthy, varied, and safe diets for all age groups. WHO supports countries in fulfilling the ICN2 commitments.