Food and nutrition are an important part of our lifestyle. In conjunction with smoking and overweight/obesity, dietary habits are responsible for the majority of health loss and socio-economic health differences in the Netherlands. A major improvement in public health could be achieved by developing healthier dietary habits and a healthier body weight. Healthier dietary habits decrease the risk of premature death, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Healthy diet

In a healthy diet, we do not eat too much nor too little, and we eat mostly vegetable products and fewer animal products. A healthy meal is rich in vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, fish, wholemeal products, contains sufficient low-fat dairy products, and is low in red meat and processed meat products, alcoholic beverages and sugary drinks, salt, and saturated fats (Health Council of the Netherlands: Dutch Dietary Guidelines 2015; the Netherlands Nutrition Centre: Wheel of Five). RIVM and the Netherlands Nutrition Centre have compared three existing European front-of-pack nutrition labels to the Dutch Wheel of Five guidelines. The outcomes are available in the factsheet  'A closer look at front-of-pack nutrition labels'.

Healthier food

Based on the National Food Consumption Survey, RIVM is investigating the extent to which people in the Netherlands eat according to the dietary guidelines and dietary reference values, and what differences there are in subgroups within society. RIVM is also investigating the relationship between food consumption and health, using data from the Doetinchem cohort study and elsewhere. In addition, RIVM is exploring options to make food products and food consumption even healthier. This applies to measures aimed at behaviour (knowledge, skills, etc.) and at the surrounding context (product composition, availability, price, etc.). RIVM operates at a national and international level in this context.

Integrated approach

RIVM Centre for Healthy Living supports professionals working at companies, schools and childcare centres in developing an integrated approach to healthy food.

International networks and activities


RIVM is involved in multiple research projects, such as the Horizon2020 PROMISS project and SEAFOODTOMORROW. PROMISS aims to better understand and prevent malnutrition in older people, thus promoting active and healthy ageing. SEAFOODTOMORROW works on creating nutritious, safe and sustainable seafood for the consumers of tomorrow. More international projects on food and nutrition, in which RIVM is involved, can be found in our international project database.

WHO Collaborating Centre on Nutrition

Since 2008, RIVM's Department of Nutrition and Health has been a designated WHO Collaborating Centre (CC) for Nutrition. The department supports the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) on health and sustainable diets and the prevention of chronic diseases.  This is done through research and scientific publications, development of methodologies and manuals, training, participating as experts in WHO meetings and providing expert advice to WHO and Member States. Read more about this WHO CC

Expert networks

RIVM participates in a variety of food and nutrition expert networks. In the area of healthy nutrition and reformulation, these include, among others, networks of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Sustainable Development Goals

RIVM's activities in the field of healthy nutrition contribute to SDG2 Zero hunger and SDG3 Good health and well-being