The Impact of HDHL Projects: A Comprehensive Impact Assessment

In the realm of research, achieving tangible impact is no easy feat. Shedding light on this, the recent Impact Assessment conducted between February and June 2023 provides valuable insights into the level of impact and knowledge utilization accomplished by projects funded under ‘Healthy Diet, Healthy Life (HDHL). The full report is available here and at the bottom of this page.


A well-rounded methodology was employed, involving a blend of in-depth interviews with 14 project leaders and an encompassing survey that reached 55 participants from 28 distinct projects. The projects included in this study were all completed between 2016 and 2022. The study set out with two fundamental objectives.

  • Determine the impact of HDHL projects on policy and up-take in practice.
  • Analyze whether HDHL projects are structured and conducted in a way that ensures the highest level of (societal and scientific) impact (= knowledge utilization).

Key results

Research quality and innovation: pushing knowledge boundaries

The assessment underscores strong research quality, marked by advanced methodologies and novel techniques. From individual biomarkers to nationwide interventions, the projects showcase innovation. Established processes were optimized, contributing to the advancement of knowledge.

Collaboration in pursuit of knowledge: effective partnerships

Collaboration emerged as a cornerstone, with consortia featuring specialized expertise. Leading experts collaborated across diverse domains. Smaller projects faced challenges in reaching stakeholders beyond academia, highlighting potential areas for improvement in outreach strategies.

Knowledge products: communication pathways

Frequent production of knowledge products was a defining feature. Scientific articles, lectures, websites, and protocols took the lead. Notably, product quality was high. However, variations in utilization emerged, with several products underused. A mix of dissemination methods, including peer-to-peer exchanges, added depth to knowledge sharing.

Knowledge utilization in action: realizing impact

Specific instances of knowledge application encompass projects like Policy Evaluation Network (PEN), whose results are being implemented in the Netherlands and Ireland. Additionally, the MaNuEL Toolbox has been practically implemented in clinical practices and policymaking.

Traditional calls vs. Knowledge hubs: discerning differences

The assessment explored contrasts between traditional calls and knowledge hubs. Knowledge hubs, with their diverse products and dissemination routes, stood as crucial agents of impact. While statistical outcomes showed no significant difference, knowledge hubs demonstrated concrete results in the realm of knowledge utilization.


The takeaways from this assessment were profound. The breadth of knowledge products and dissemination routes highlighted the initiative's efficacy in reaching scientific communities. However, broader sectors outside of science could benefit from increased involvement, enhancing the dissemination process. Recognizing that smaller projects with less experienced coordinators yielded fewer impacts underscored the need for targeted support and follow-up funding for dissemination. While the initial impact has been remarkable, the assessment also acknowledged that measuring long-term effects and introducing more extensive analyses could provide deeper insights into the true extent of the initiative's influence. Overall, the HDHL initiative's dedication to fostering high-quality research, nurturing collaborations, and advocating for impactful outcomes is evident in the findings, reinforcing its commitment to advancing the field of health and nutrition.

We want to thank everyone who contributed to this assessment and dedicated their time to offer their unique input.