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© 2018 A poor diet is the leading cause of premature morbidity and mortality in England. Nutritional surveillance shows that, on average, people eat too little fruit and vegetables, fibre and oily fish, and too many foods and drinks high in calories, sugar and saturated fat. Although micronutrient deficiencies are rare at the population level, some subgroups may require nutritional supplements. Public health policy seeks to intervene to close the gap between dietary intake and dietary recommendations for good health. Population-level policies include actions to enhance nutritional knowledge, set nutrition standards for food provision and introduce fiscal interventions such as taxation. They can also encourage the food industry to reformulate food and drink products, change the availability or positioning of products, thus changing the default choices, and change the way products are marketed, with a mix of both voluntary and mandatory approaches. Health professionals can play a pivotal role in motivating dietary change at an individual level, particularly for individuals with increased risk, and have an advocacy role in supporting policies to improve population health.

Original publication




Journal article


Medicine (United Kingdom)

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