Nutrieconomic model can facilitate healthy and low-cost food choices

Laura Primavesi, Giovanna Caccavelli, Alessandra Ciliberto, Emmanuel Pauze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract Objective Promotion of healthy eating can no longer be postponed as a priority, given the alarming growth rate of chronic degenerative diseases in Western countries. We elaborated a nutrieconomic model to assess and identify the most nutritious and affordable food choices. Design Seventy-one food items representing the main food categories were included and their nationally representative prices monitored. Food composition was determined using CRA-NUT (Centro di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione) and IEO (Istituto Europeo di Oncologia) databases. To define food nutritional quality, the mean adequacy ratio and mean excess ratio were combined. Both prices and nutritional quality were normalised for the edible food content and for the recommended serving sizes for the Italian adult population. Setting Stores located in different provinces throughout Italy. Subjects Not applicable. Results Cereals and legumes presented very similar nutritional qualities and prices per serving. Seasonal fruits and vegetables presented differentiated nutritional qualities and almost equal prices. Products of animal origin showed similar nutritional qualities and varied prices: the best nutrieconomic choices were milk, oily fish and poultry for the dairy products, fish and meat groups, respectively. Conclusions Analysing two balanced weekly menus, our nutrieconomic model was able to note a significant decrease in cost of approximately 30 % by varying animal-protein sources without affecting nutritional quality. Healthy eating does not necessarily imply spending large amounts of money but rather being able to make nutritionally optimal choices. The nutrieconomic model is an innovative and practical way to help consumers make correct food choices and nutritionists increase the compliance of their patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-835
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 8 2014


  • Diet cost
  • Food analysis
  • Nutrieconomic analysis
  • Nutrient profiling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Medicine(all)


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