To evaluate Ireland's food-based dietary guidelines and highlight priorities for revision.Design
Evaluation with stakeholder input. Energy and nutrient intake goals most appropriate for Ireland were determined. Advice from Ireland's food guide was translated into 4 d food intake patterns representing age and gender groups from 5 to 51+ years. Nutritional content of the food patterns was compared with identified goals and appropriateness of food advice was noted. Feedback from stakeholders was obtained on portion size of foods within the Bread, Cereal and Potato group and of portion descriptors for meat and cereal foods.Setting
General population aged 5+ years, dietitians/nutritionists (n 44) and 1011 consumers.Results
Goals were identified for energy, macronutrients, fibre, Fe, Ca and vitamin D. Goals not achieved by the food patterns included energy, total fat, saturated fat, fibre and vitamin D. Energy content of food portions within the Bread, Cereal and Potato group varied widely, yet advice indicated they were equivalent. Dietitians/nutritionists agreed with the majority of consumers surveyed (74 %, n 745) that larger portion sizes within the Bread, Cereal and Potato group were more meaningful. ‘Palm of hand’ as a descriptor for meat portions and a ‘200 ml disposable cup’ for quantifying cereal foods were preferred.Conclusions
Revision of the guidelines requires specific guidance on energy and vitamin D intakes, and comprehensive advice on how to reduce fat and saturated fat and increase fibre intakes. Advice should use portion descriptors favoured by consumers and enlarged portion sizes for breads, cereals and potatoes that are equivalent in terms of energy.