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Nutrient profiling is the ‘science of classifying or ranking foods according to their nutritional composition for reasons related to preventing disease and promoting health’ and nutrient profile models are algorithms that classify or rank foods for the purposes of nutrient profiling.  Nutrient profile models are used for a variety of purposes including restrictions on food marketing, food labelling and health-related food taxes  

Food-based dietary guidelines set out dietary goals for a population in terms of the quantities of foods people should be eating to improve their health.  It is generally agreed that nutrient profile models should rank and classify foods in ways that are consistent with food based dietary guidelines.   But there is currently a debate about how this might be best achieved.  The aim of this DPhil project would be to contribute to that debate.


The project will involve: 1) A systematic review of the methods other researchers have used to compare the ranks or classifications of nutrient profile models with the recommendations of food-based dietary guidelines; 2) Developing novel methods for ranking foods in relation to food-based dietary guidelines – for example using the results of optimisation modelling that is used to develop some food-based dietary guidelines; 3) Comparing these new methods of ranking foods with the ranks and classifications of foods generated by nutrient profile models. 

The UK Government’s Food Based Dietary Guidelines – the Eatwell Guide – and the UK Government’s nutrient profile model, used for regulating the marketing of foods to children, will be the focus of the project.


As this will be largely desk-based research no field work or industry placements are envisaged.  All necessary training e.g. in systematic review methods or optimization modelling will be provided.

Prospective candidate

This project is best suited to an individual with an interest in public health nutrition and with some statistical skills.