The research on Norwegian nutritional habits, conducted as part of the Norwegian Directorate's Annual Report on the Consumption of Foods, showed a 5% increase in fruit and vegetable consumption between 2015 and 2016.
Linda Granlund, director of health, said that this was evidence that the consumption of vegetables is moving “the right way”.
Sugar consumption in the country has also fallen over time – from 43 kilos per capita per year in 2000 to 27 kilos per capita per year in 2016. However, the regulator stressed, this level is “still too high”.
"The steady decline we see in sugar consumption is also good news for public health. High sugar intake can lead to obesity and diseases like type 2 diabetes and… is bad for dental health,” Granlund said.
The director of health said that “no more than 10%” of energy consumed should come from added sugars and pointed to sugary drinks, chocolate, confectionery and cakes as the “main sources” of sugar in people’s diets.
Responding to the results from the Norwegian Directorate of Health, Orkla – the region’s largest food maker – flagged the work it is doing to provide products that are lower in sugar as part of its “responsibility” to support public health.
The company said this is achieved by launching sugar-free variants and reformulating existing lines. Linn Anne Bjelland Brunborg, head of nutrition and health in Orkla Foods Norway, said the introduction of FUN Light was an important contributor to the sugar reduction in Orkla’s product portfolio.
"Today, sugary drinks are the second largest source of added sugar in our diet. With FUN Light, we have been actively helping to reduce sugar intake since drinking since 1988,” she said.
"In addition to FUN Light, we have in recent years brought more sugar-free alternatives in a number of product groups… We have a health trend in Norway, consumes demanding healthier products.”
Meat and fish consumption concern
While it is clearly good news on the sugar front, Granlund said that the health regulator is “worried” about meat consumption, which has risen sharply in recent decades. “We know that one-third of women and more than half of men eat more than 500 grams of red and processed meat a week. Meat products are one of the main sources of saturated fat and salt, and a high intake of this poses a health risk. In addition, we know that it is not sustainable to eat a lot of meat.”
At the same time, fish consumption is dropping, particularly among young Norwegians, the study revealed. Total fish consumption fell by just over 4% in the period, the research revealed.