Good health, a better quality of life and prevention of chronic illness are all determined to some extent by a healthy diet. By funding various studies on the influence of diet on behaviour, physical activity, health and chronic disease, we are helping to improve the wellbeing of current and future generations.

Healthy lifestyle

Good diet and sufficient exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle, and reduce a person’s chances of developing a chronic disease. Lifestyle can thus be used to prevent and treat chronic illness. Thanks to a growth in clinical research on lifestyle medicine as part of curative care, a healthy lifestyle is increasingly being seen as a fully-fledged treatment method .

International collaboration

ZonMw is part of Healthy Diet, Healthy Life (HDHL), along with organisations representing 16 other countries. Our role is to coordinate international research into determinants of nutritional behaviour and exercise, healthy and sustainable diet and food production, and the role of diet in chronic illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Healthy and sustainable diets and food systems

Food production and consumption have a huge impact on the climate, the environment and the planet. A third of global greenhouse gas emissions come from our food system. This has an enormous impact on the climate. At the same time, as the global population grows, we need to ensure that we can produce enough food, while caring for the planet. It is important that the sustainable choice is also the healthy choice.

Diet and …

As mentioned above, diet plays an important role in our lives. Thanks to various studies, we are learning more and more about the impact of diet, particularly it effects on gut health, behaviour and illness.

Diet and gut health

A healthy lifestyle is the foundation of a healthy gut microbiome. Exercise, a healthy diet, and good, healthy liquid intake stimulate the growth of good bacteria in the gastro-intestinal tract. The gut microbiome is very complex, however, and is affected not only by diet and lifestyle, but also by the living environment, genes, illness and medication. ZonMw is funding projects investigating the relationship between these factors, health and the gut microbiome.

Diet and behaviour

Our dietary choices, eating habits and level of exercise determine how healthy and energetic we are. Our food environment plays a key role in this. As the prevalence of unhealthy food increases, more and more people are becoming overweight. Several projects are investigating how to improve people’s behaviour in terms of exercise and diet, and effective policy measures to promote a healthy food environment and prevent overweight and obesity.

Diet and disease

An unhealthy eating pattern can place an excessive burden on the metabolism. It can for example cause blood sugar levels to become too high, leading to health risks such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Besides changes in the metabolism, this can also be genetically determined. Diet can affect the activity of genes, and therefore also impact on health. Research into the interaction between diet, genes and health [link] is allowing us to better identify risk factors and reduce the chances that these diseases will develop.


If you have any questions, you can find our contact details below.


Jasmina van Driel

Program manager Nutrition and HDHL
HDHL [at]