Food and nutrition in health promotion

Group: Food and nutrition in health promotion

Acronym: CEU-NutriFOOD

Registry number: C08/0720

School/Centre: PHARMACY


  • Alonso Aperte, Elena (Main researcher)
  • Úbeda Martín, Natalia
  • Achón y Tuñón, Maria
  • González González, María Purificación
  • García González, Ángela
  • Fajardo Martín, Violeta
  • Iglesia Gonzalez, Rocio de la

Research thematic areas:

  • Influence of diet and physical activity in health promotion and in some pathologies
  • Composition and nutritional value of food
  • Culture, food and society - sociology of food

UNESCO Code: 320600, 320613, 320604,320606, 230232


Nutritional Status Assessment, Celiac Disease, Gluten-free, Nutrition and Sport, Food Analysis, Food Composition Database, Food Sociology, Consumer Science, Health Promotion, Sustainable Food.


Relevant characteristics of the research group (description of the group's activity):

Nowadays, it's been widely demonstrated that diet has a remarkable influence on our state of health and body composition, hence it is common to read in nutrition-related texts the phrase "we are what we eat". However, we have thousands of ways of eating and a very wide variety of foods available to us to achieve the process of nutrition that enables life and maintains our health. As habits change and foods are modified, reformulated and innovated, it is necessary to know what people's diets are really like and how they influence their nutritional status. Particularly vulnerable groups are of interest to us, such as coeliacs, who due to their pathology must necessarily exclude fundamental foods from their diet, and the over 80s, a group at high nutritional risk and with a high epidemiological growth, as well as cancer patients.

The assessment of nutritional status is complemented by the study of foodstuffs with the aim of finding out whether the availability of food is sufficient, varied and of optimum nutritional quality to meet nutritional needs.  

Finally, given that in industrialised societies the food impulse is not governed solely by physiological need, but by a combination of knowledge, culture, tradition, attitude towards one's own health and the environment, as well as the ability to obtain healthy and gastronomically acceptable food, we consider it important to analyse the sociological aspects of food.

In short, we aim to study the sustainable diet, defined in 2010 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) as one that protects and respects biodiversity and ecosystems, is culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable, nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy, as well as optimising natural and human resources.

In our recent publications, we have described the nutritional status of children and adolescents with coeliac disease after following a gluten-free diet for more than a year. The diet of this group follows the same patterns as that of healthy groups, but coeliacs have a higher risk of deficiency in vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, iron and folic acid (DOI: 10.3390/nu11102329). We have constructed and updated a composition database with a total of 629 gluten-free cereal-based products, analysing both their ingredient and nutritional composition (DOI: 10.3390/nu12082369). These products are high in calories and high in fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt, but a timid reformulation of fat quality and salt reduction is beginning to be seen. In relation to the sociological aspects of food, we were able to verify, through a survey representative of the Spanish population, that Spaniards consider economic aspects when purchasing food, above health or sustainability criteria, and that women continue to be the main responsible for purchasing (DOI: 10.3390/nu9050508). When it comes to food preparation, the majority of the population, regardless of sex or age, report having cooking skills, but again women continue to be the main responsible for the culinary process in the family (DOI: 10.3390/nu10020217). This same population also shows a positive attitude towards sustainability, but does not know or correctly interpret concepts such as ecological footprint, blue water and green water or the environmental impact of meat, dairy or fish production.