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OBJECTIVE: To model population health impacts of dietary changes associated with the redevelopment of the UK food-based dietary guidelines (the 'Eatwell Guide'). METHOD: Using multi-state lifetable methods, we modelled the impact of dietary changes on cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancers over the lifetime of the current UK population. From this model, we determined change in life expectancy and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) that could be averted. RESULTS: Changing the average diet to that recommended in the new Eatwell Guide, without increasing total energy intake, could increase average life expectancy by 5.4 months (95% uncertainty interval: 4.7 to 6.2) for men and 4.0 months (3.4 to 4.6) for women; and avert 17.9 million (17.6 to 18.2) DALYs over the lifetime of the current population. A large proportion of the health benefits are from prevention of type 2 diabetes, with 440,000 (400,000 to 480,000) new cases prevented in men and 340,000 (310,000 to 370,000) new cases prevented in women, over the next ten years. Prevention of cardiovascular diseases and colorectal cancer is also large. However, if the diet recommended in the new Eatwell Guide is achieved with an accompanying increase in energy intake (and thus an increase in body mass index), around half the potential improvements in population health will not be realised. CONCLUSIONS: The dietary changes required to meet recommendations in the Eatwell Guide, which include eating more fruits and vegetables and less red and processed meats and dairy products, are large. However, the potential population health benefits are substantial.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Cardiovascular Diseases, Colorectal Neoplasms, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Dietary Carbohydrates, Dietary Fiber, Energy Intake, Female, Humans, Male, Nutrition Policy, Public Health, United Kingdom