European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2017) 71, 694–711; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2016.234; published online 30 November 2016

The effects of policy actions to improve population dietary patterns and prevent diet-related non-communicable diseases: scoping review

L Hyseni1, M Atkinson1, H Bromley1, L Orton1, F Lloyd-Williams1, R McGill1 and S Capewell1

1Department of Public Health and Policy, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK

Correspondence: L Hyseni, Department of Public Health and Policy, University of Liverpool, Whelan building, Liverpool L3 69GB, UK. E-mail:

Received 12 May 2016; Revised 13 October 2016; Accepted 14 October 2016
Advance online publication 30 November 2016



Poor diet generates a bigger non-communicable disease (NCD) burden than tobacco, alcohol and physical inactivity combined. We reviewed the potential effectiveness of policy actions to improve healthy food consumption and thus prevent NCDs. This scoping review focused on systematic and non-systematic reviews and categorised data using a seven-part framework: price, promotion, provision, composition, labelling, supply chain, trade/investment and multi-component interventions. We screened 1805 candidate publications and included 58 systematic and non-systematic reviews. Multi-component and price interventions appeared consistently powerful in improving healthy eating. Reformulation to reduce industrial trans fat intake also seemed very effective. Evidence on food supply chain, trade and investment studies was limited and merits further research. Food labelling and restrictions on provision or marketing of unhealthy foods were generally less effective with uncertain sustainability. Increasingly strong evidence is highlighting potentially powerful policies to improve diet and thus prevent NCDs, notably multi-component interventions, taxes, subsidies, elimination and perhaps trade agreements. The implications for policy makers are becoming clearer.

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