A 360º view of the effects of foods

Wednesday 06 Nov 19


Morten Poulsen
Senior Researcher, Head of Research Group
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 76 06

By exploring both the beneficial and the harmful health-related properties in foods, consumers and authorities become better equipped to predict the health effects of individual foods, nutrients, and diets. The National Food Institute is leading in the area of risk-benefit assessments.

Risk-benefit assessments make it possible to quantify, compare, and measure the health effect of specific foods or food groups.

Among other things, risk-benefit assessments are used to quantify the health impact of eating in accordance with the official food-based dietary guidelines or following a specific diet compared to what an average Dane eats.

"The ambition is to use and streamline even more data so that the risk-benefit assessments can reach the public sooner. This would, for example, make it possible to conduct a risk-benefit assessment of different diet trends as soon as they reach the consumer. Today it takes too long, and the trends are usually over by the time the results are ready."
Head of Research Group, Senior Researcher Morten Poulsen

Furthermore, the calculations make it possible to explore segmented population and examine what happens to your health if one type of food is replaced by another.

Intervene to ensure as few people as possible become ill

Besides risk-benefit assessments, quantifying the health impact can be used to explore the burden of disease in the population caused by different chemicals and disease-causing microorganisms, contaminants in food, and dietary risk factors such as a high intake of sugar or a low intake of fruit and vegetables.

The results help the authorities and food producers to assess where to intervene so that as few people as possible get sick from the food they eat.

Read more 

Read more about the National Food Institute’s research into risk-benefit assessments in an article from the National Food Institute’s 60th anniversary publication: A 360º view of the effects of foods.

The National Food Institute is celebrating its 60th birthday this year, as it was decided on June 5, 1959 to establish a national food institute in Denmark. The other articles from the anniversary publication will be published over the coming months.

You can also read the articles: At the forefront of healthy, safe and sustainable food.

The National Food Institute prevents disesase and promotes health

Consumers are increasingly interested in their health. Magazines and news media are brimming with advice on healthy eating, exercising more and healthy living in general – and the demand for healthy and safe foods continues to increase. 

However, at the same time, more and more people are affected by infectious diseases and lifestyle diseases, and exposure to chemicals can lead to cancer and inhibit our ability to reproduce.

Thus, research that promotes health and prevents disease is very important.

The majority of the research projects, scientific advice to authorities, cooperation with businesses and teaching activities at the National Food Institute have the fundamental vision to make a difference by preventing disease and promoting health in a number of areas: 

  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Unwanted effects of chemical substances
  • Nutrition
  • Food allergy
  • Microbiological food safety
  • Hygienic design in the production of food
  • Risk-benefit assessments of health effects
  • Chemical food analysis
  • Nano-materials in foods
  • Risk assessments
  • Gut health
  • Development of health food and ingredients.
Image: National Food Institute