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FENS Working Groups: Improving Standards in The Science of Nutrition

Following initial discussions and a workshop at FENS 2019 in Dublin, FENS has established three working groups to discuss and publish consensus documents around improving standards in the science of nutrition. The background to this activity can be found elsewhere [1, 2].

After an exceptional response from the membership of FENS, 61 people representing 20 European countries have been nominated to join the Working Groups. All the groups will come together for regular meetings to share practice and progress. Each working group has a Chair and a Secretary with the other members being a mix of established and early career researchers. Members of the working groups are, as far as possible, spread equally across European countries and have a diverse distribution. It is anticipated that each working group will report its findings at the next FENS conference in Belgrade 2023.

Working Group 1

“Concepts and methodologies”

Focused on which nutritional science concepts need revision and how this can be achieved, and what will the consequences be for methodologies in order to have credible and capable scientific research.

Working Group 2

“Organisation, capabilities and funding”

Focused on how research on nutrition and health is currently organised and funded in different countries and continents, including interactions among the various scientific disciplines.

Whether that organisation is optimal, and, if not, what structures, capabilities and interactions are required.

How nutrition science is communicated “internally” (i.e. within the scientific community).

How nutrition science can better recognise and deal with interactions with different stakeholders, including industry.

Working Group 3

“External communication and public trust”

Focused on the steps required to better assure “public trust” in nutrition science. “Public” includes those professionals who apply nutrition sciences in their daily practice as well as consumers and patients.


  1. Tufford AR, Calder PC, Van’t Veer P, Feskens EF, Ockhuizen T, Kraneveld AD, Sikkema J, de Vries J (2020) Is nutrition science ready for the twenty-first century? Moving towards transdisciplinary impacts in a changing world. Eur J Nutr 59(Suppl 1), 1-10.
  2. Calder PC, Feskens EJM, Kraneveld AD, Plat J, van ‘t Veer P, de Vries J (2020) Towards “Improved Standards in the Science of Nutrition” through the establishment of Federation of European Nutrition Societies Working Groups. Ann Nutr Metab 76, 2-5.

Food Based Dietary Guidelines Task Force

Dietary guidelines provide advice on foods, food groups, and dietary patterns to promote health, prevent chronic disease and ensure the public have a diet that provides the nutrients they require for health. Food based dietary guidelines establish a basis for public food and nutrition, health and agricultural policies and nutrition education programmes to encourage healthy eating habits and lifestyles.

Over the last four years FENS has had a series of activities around “food-based dietary guidelines” (FBDG), led by a FENS Task Force on FBDG. FENS hosted workshops on the topic in Brussels in 2017, Copenhagen in 2018 [1] and Bonn in 2019 [2].

Up till now, FBDG have been derived by using systematic reviews on diet-health relationships and translating dietary reference values for nutrient intake into foods. This approach does not consider many of the implications that dietary recommendations have on society, the economy and environment. Challenges including climate change and the burden of diet-related diseases mean that evidence-based findings from different dimensions need to be integrated into FBDG. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has compiled a list of current Food Based Dietary Guidelines from over 100 of its member countries. More information and research about these guidelines can be found here


 1. Tetens I, Birt CA, Brink E, Bodenbach S, Bugel S, De Henauw S, Grønlund T, Julia C, Konde ÅB, Kromhout D, Lehmann U, Dos Santos Q, Sokolovic M, Storcksdieck Genannt Bonsmann S, van Rossum C, Boeing H (2020) Food-Based Dietary Guidelines – development of a conceptual framework for future Food-Based Dietary Guidelines in Europe: report of a Federation of European Nutrition Societies Task-Force Workshop in Copenhagen, 12-13 March 2018. Brit J Nutr 124, 1338-1344.  

2. Schäfer AC, Schmidt A, Bechthold A, Boeing H, Watzl B, Darmon N, Devleesschauwer B, Heckelei T, Pires SM, Nadaud P, van Dooren C, Vieux F (2021) Integration of various dimensions in food-based dietary guidelines via mathematical approaches: report of a DGE/FENS Workshop in Bonn, Germany, 23-24 September 2019. Brit J Nutr, in press. 

FENS Awards

The FENS Award is presented to a European colleague, recognised in the field of nutritional sciences and given in recognition for their achievements in their career. 

Members of FENS nominate candidates for consideration by the nominating committee.

FENS Award Recipients

ConferenceLocationYearAward Winners
4thAmsterdam1983Dr Elsie Widdowson
5thWarsaw1987Prof Bjorn Isaksson
6thAthens1991Prof Haenel
8thLillehammer1999Prof Andrew Prentice
9thRome2003Prof Dr Martijn B. Katan
10thParis2007Prof Dr Pratice D. Cani
12thBerlin2015Dr Ibrahim Elmadfa
13thDublin2019Prof Michael Gibney