Government food policies: what about fats?

"Eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day" and "eat and move" are prevention messages that are well known to the general public and that appeared with the National Nutrition and Health Programme (PNNS).

The PNNS, a tool set up in 2001 by the public authorities (see insert), aims to improve the health of the population by acting on one of its major determinants, nutrition.

The scientific knowledge acquired over the last 20 years allows us to affirm that diet is a factor on which to act as a preventive measure with regard to the major current public health issues such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases or obesity.

In this respect, the4th edition of the PNNS[1 ] (PNNS-4) launched in September 2019 recommends, among other objectives, improving the nutritional quality of the food supply.

Among the avenues envisaged, the PNNS recommends reducing the fat content of everyday foods by reformulating them: modifying existing recipes or marketing foods of better nutritional quality by eliminating industrially produced trans fatty acids, reducing saturated fatty acids or increasing omega-3 fatty acids.

The issue of added fats - oil, butter and margarine - is also addressed, with the NNHP recommending that their consumption profile be improved so that :

  • 100% of the population has a vegetable fat to total fat ratio of more than 50%;
  • 100% of the population have a ratio of alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid precursor) rich vegetable fats and olive oil to total vegetable fats of more than 50%.

The main recommendation is that added fats can be consumed daily in small amounts, with a preference for rapeseed oil, walnut oil (both rich in alpha-linolenic acid) and olive oil.


The National Nutrition and Health Programme (PNNS) is a public health plan supported by the Ministry of Health, through which the public authorities define and disseminate recommendations on diet and physical activity. Implemented in 2001, the PNNS was extended in 2006 (PNNS-2), 2011 (PNNS-3) and 2019 (PNNS-4).


Since its creation, the PNNS nutritional guidelines have been disseminated to the French population through various means of communication: nutrition guides, the website and media campaigns. They have been integrated and relayed by professionals in the health and social sectors and, since 2007, by the food industry, where advertisers of manufactured food products are obliged to display health messages that include the content of some of these guidelines.


In its latest edition (2019-2023), the PNNS aims to promote, on the supply and demand sides, a diet that is favourable to health, taking into account cultural and environmental dimensions, the daily practice of physical activity while limiting sedentary behaviour with the objective of reducing social inequalities in health.


Since March 2019, it has been merged with the National Food Plan (PNA), under the Ministry of Agriculture, as part of the National Food and Nutrition Programme (PNAN), whose objective is to help promote healthy and environmentally friendly food choices and reduce inequalities in access to quality and sustainable food.