Schijf van Vijf 2016: Key role for Optimeal®
On 22 March this year the Netherlands Nutrition Centre (Voedingscentrum) presented its totally revised Schijf van Vijf guidelines on the five principle components of a healthy diet. These guidelines are provided to help the Dutch population choose a healthy diet in line with the latest scientific insights. The Schijf van Vijf provides the public with practical advice based on the recently published Good Nutrition Guidelines 2015 (Richtlijnen Goede Voeding 2015). Behind the scenes, technology developed by Blonk Consultants played a key role in the preparation of the Schijf van Vijf.
Both the Netherlands Nutrition Centre and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), which provided support to the Netherlands Nutrition Centre, made use of Optimeal®, a program for determining which diets are healthy and sustainable
Personal Schijf van Vijf – a bespoke diet planThe new Schijf van Vijf is based on a set of reference diets for different groups in the population that provide them with all their nutritional needs. To be certain that the reference diets do indeed contain all the necessary nutrients they were assessed under a range of scenarios. The Optimeal® program ensured that the diets provide all the essential nutrients, taking into account specific needs and preferences. A few examples of specific groups:
- Low carbohydrate
- Dutch cuisine
Optimeal® made it possible to calculate an appropriate dietary pattern for all these groups so soon after the publication of the Guidelines – a marvellous example of the broad applicability of Optimeal®. In fact, it would be possible to calculate reference diets for every individual based on their own needs and preferences..
Steps in the right directionThe recommended amounts of some product groups will come as a surprise to many. For example, the recommended amount of vegetables is 250 grams. But this is an ideal situation in which you meet all the nutritional requirements every day. It is not readily achievable for everyone and indeed it is not a requirement: it is quite enough to take a few steps in the right direction. This is also the main message in the public information campaign for the Schijf van Vijf. Moreover, these dietary standards – the recommended amounts of nutrients – are also continually being revised.
Next year the Health Council of the Netherlands will re-examine them in the light of the latest scientific insights into our dietary needs. It is also the case that some norms are based on more solid evidence than others, and in view of this the Netherlands Nutrition Centre may make some minor adjustments to the recommendations. All this is possible because of the computing power of Optimeal®.
The environmental impact of diets
When preparing the new Schijf van Vijf, consideration was also given to the environmental impacts of the reference diets using environmental data supplied by Blonk Consultants. One of the consequences of considering environmental impact is that the diets include (oily) fish once a week instead of twice and a maximum of 500 grams of meat per week, including no more than 300 grams of red meat. A limit has also been set on dairy products and nuts. The profiles do not yet include specific diets with a minimum environmental impact, but these may be included in future. Optimeal® will have a big part to play in that too.