Reflecting on a Decade of Innovation: Evolution of the ‘Food Guide for the Brazilian Population’

In 2024, the Food Guide for the Brazilian Population , developed in partnership with the Center for Epidemiological Research in Nutrition and Health (Nupens), celebrates a decade since the launch of its most recent edition. Recognized as a global reference, the guide played a crucial role in promoting healthy and sustainable diets and warning about the dangers of ultra-processed foods.

One of the significant innovations in the second edition of the guide was the adoption of an expanded concept of healthy eating. The recommendations began to consider, in addition to the impact of diet on health, the cultural, economic, social and environmental aspects of food.

For Kamila Gabe, PhD in Nutrition and researcher at Nupens, this change represented a major evolution in relation to the 2006 edition, which focused on a purely biological healthy eating paradigm, reducing food to the sum of nutrients. Another important innovation was the incorporation of recommendations based exclusively on the level of food processing, including avoiding ultra-processed foods.

Expanded concept

Currently, countries such as Mexico, Chile and Uruguay adopt an expanded concept of healthy eating, valuing traditional foods and discouraging the consumption of ultra-processed foods. “The guide’s messages are based on eating practices that can be understood as a network of daily activities related to the act of eating, such as food purchasing and preparation routines, times and places for consuming meals and sharing tasks”, explains Kamila.

This type of approach seeks to be closer and more realistic in the context of people’s lives, unlike recommendations based on quantities and number of portions, such as those in the previous edition of the guide. Kamila highlights that “our research showed that people who follow the healthy and sustainable practices recommended by the guide, such as planning meals, eating at the table and cooking at home, in fact have a healthier food consumption, with more fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans and less ultra-processed.”

Thus, the guide not only serves as a reference for food and nutritional education and promotes autonomy in healthier food choices, but also as an inducer of public policies that facilitate the adoption of these practices, such as food price regulation, adequate nutritional labeling and greater access to healthy foods.