Nutrient Profiling

Policy Position

Nutrient profiling is a means of categorising foods according to their nutrient composition. Profiles are usually developed in the context of a public health policy to enable classification of foods. For example, in the UK, a nutrient profiling model is used to determine what food and drink can be advertised on children’s’ TV.

Different people have different nutritional needs, for example, small children need less energy than adults, and pregnant women have a higher requirement for certain vitamins and minerals such as folic acid and iron. For this reason, FDF believes that for a nutrient profile to be effective, a clear objective must be in place throughout its development. We have developed principles which we believe should be considered when developing a nutrient profiling model.

  1. it should consider all nutrients (not foods) relative to the objective, and be based on a high standard of scientific evidence
  2. if designed for a defined population should be based on the average within that population (e.g. bodyweight, activity level)
  3. it should consider actual consumption patterns, taking account of amounts typically consumed and may include frequency
  4. it should be capable of identifying significant differences in nutrient composition within and between foods, thereby encouraging appropriate reformulation or new product development appropriate to the objective
  5. it should be easy to understand and apply.
  6. it should avoid absolute adjectival parameters in its design or execution e.g. 'unhealthy', 'good', 'bad', etc.


Last reviewed: 28 Jun 2016