Here’s what Norwegians ate in 2020, the year of the corona pandemic

Supermarket - store - food - vegetablesPhoto: Terje Pedersen / NTB
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More cheese, yogurt, and cereal – and maybe a little less meat. That is what most Norwegians are in 2020, according to the Norwegian Directorate of Health’s report on the Norwegian diet.

The report follows the development in the Norwegian diet and whether people follow the authorities’ advice to eat healthily. But the figures show that last year was far from a normal year. The lockdown meant that people barely ate outside in a restaurant, café, or canteen. And cross-border trade also stopped.

“The figures from 2020 are exciting because – for the first time – we get to see the total consumption in Norway virtually without cross-border trade and travel abroad, and with many meals prepared and consumed within the four walls of our homes,” division director Linda Granlund in the Norwegian Directorate of Health stated.

“But it also makes it a little harder to compare with 2019 because estimates for cross-border trade are uncertain,” she continued.

The figures in the report are based on how much food was imported and produced in the country, i.e., wholesale consumption. After that, the numbers are divided by the number of inhabitants.

2.7 kilos more cheese per person

On average, every Norwegian ate 2.7 kilos more cheese last year than in 2019. We also ate more grain and flour than the year before.

“It is possible that more meals at home have meant more bread, baked goods, and cereals, but that’s speculation,” Granlund said.

Regardless of the reason, the authorities are happy with the increase in the consumption of wholemeal bread and cereals because it helps reduce the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

Meat consumption

In the period 2015–2019, the consumption of meat has leveled off, after having increased sharply over time, according to the Norwegian Directorate of Health. 

Each Norwegian ate an average of 74.6 kilos of meat last year. That is over 2 kilos more than the year before, but the authorities think it was actually a decrease with cross-border trade taken into account.

The health authorities are not so happy with the high meat consumption, which is neither in line with the advice for a healthy diet nor the goal of making our food consumption more sustainable.

At the same time, Norwegian eat less fish now than in 2015, while the authorities’ goal is for Norway’s inhabitants to eat more fish. Last year, the fish consumption divided per inhabitant was 31.9 kilos of whole, unprocessed fish. Converted to fish fillet, it amounts to only 13.4 kilos.

Too much fat

Sugar intake has fallen sharply in the last decade. In 2010 we consumed 31 kilos of sugar per person, while in 2019, the number was down to 24 kilos. Last year, wholesale consumption amounted to 26 kilos, but the authorities reckon that consumption was actually the same as the year before if one includes cross-border trade in the calculations.

“While we have had a nice decline in sugar consumption over time, we have not progressed when it comes to saturated fat – that is, the fat you find in a lot of fatty dairy products and meat, for example,” Granlund said.

In the 2010–2020 period, the fat content of the diet has increased from 35 to 37% of the energy content (energy percentage). Saturated fatty acids accounted for 15% of the energy content of food in 2020.

Granlund believes that the food industry and the authorities must work together to reduce the fat content of food.

“High intake of saturated fat is one of the most important risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease.”

More vegetables

On the other hand, Norwegians are becoming better at eating vegetables. Consumption has increased by 12% in the ten years after 2010. From 2019 to 2020, consumption of vegetables has increased slightly, and consumption of fruit and berries has decreased slightly.

The report also indicates that Norwegians eat less french fries and potato chips now than ten years ago. 

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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