Critical review of economic evaluation studies of interventions promoting low-fat diets

Giovanni Fattore, Francesca Ferrè, Michela Meregaglia, Elena Fattore, Carlo Agostoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Various national and local policies encouraging healthy eating have recently been proposed. The present review aims to summarize and critically assess nutrition-economic evaluation studies of direct (e.g., diet counseling) and indirect (e.g., food labeling) interventions aimed at improving dietary habits. A systematic literature review was performed by searching 5 databases (PubMed, Ovid Medline, EconLit, Agricola, and Embase) using a combination of diet-related (fat, diet, intake, nutrition) and economics-related (cost-effectiveness, cost-benefit, cost-utility, health economics, economic evaluation) key words. The search yielded 36 studies that varied in target population, study design, economic evaluation method, and health/economic outcome. In general, all provide limited experimental evidence and adopt the framework of economic evaluations in healthcare. Certain important aspects were not well considered: 1) the non-health-related effects of nutrition interventions on well-being; 2) the private nature of food expenditures; 3) the distributional effects on food expenditures across socioeconomic groups; and 4) the general economic implications (e.g., agrofoods, import/export) of such interventions. Overall, the methodology for the economic evaluation of nutrition interventions requires substantial improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-706
Number of pages16
JournalNutrition Reviews
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Cost effectiveness
  • Diet intervention
  • Economic evaluation
  • Nutrition
  • Public policies
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine(all)


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