A slim chance / News / The Foreigner

A slim chance. Overweight is on the increase amongst the Norwegian population. But whilst healthier foods are better for the body, they aren’t good for consumers’ wallets. The health authorities face a challenge. A recent programme on NRK called “Forbrukerinspektørene” showed a price comparison between two food baskets; one containing healthy food marked with the green keyhole trademark, and one without. Although the healthier option was found to be 23% more expensive, Arnhild Haga Rimestad – director of the Department of Nutrition at the Directorate of Health (Helsedirektoratet) – tells The Foreigner that this can be misleading.

health, food, keyhole, salt, sugar, fat, fibre, diet, overweight, norwegians, type2, diabetes, cholesterol, heart, disease, unhealthy, poor



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A slim chance

Published on Tuesday, 1st December, 2009 at 09:30 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

Overweight is on the increase amongst the Norwegian population. But whilst healthier foods are better for the body, they aren’t good for consumers’ wallets. The health authorities face a challenge.

Feet on scales
Feet on scales
Photo: Bill Branson,Nat.Cancer Inst./Wikimedia


Looking through a keyhole?

A recent programme on NRK called “Forbrukerinspektørene” showed a price comparison between two food baskets; one containing healthy food marked with the green keyhole trademark, and one without.

Although the healthier option was found to be 23% more expensive, Arnhild Haga Rimestad – director of the Department of Nutrition at the Directorate of Health (Helsedirektoratet) – tells The Foreigner that this can be misleading.

“Many products can be more expensive when comparing like with like – especially meat – but items such as milk and bread cost the same,” she says.

And if consumers are open for alternatives, she estimates that only buying healthy food can be just as inexpensive.

“It’s easy to substitute minced beef for lower fat alternatives – such as chicken and pork, for example. Alternatively, you could use more vegetables in a meal,” says Rimestad.

On a plate

Nøkkelhullet/Keyhole trademark
Nøkkelhullet/Keyhole trademark
Norwegian Directorate of Health
The keyhole mark was introduced in the summer as part of their campaign to change the nation’s food habits. Rimestad thinks that Norwegians should double their intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, and eat fewer sausages and meat cakes.

People need to change their diet to encompass more low-fat food, fish, and wholegrain products if we’re to combat stomach cancer, coronary heart disease, overweight, cancer, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.”

She goes on to say that social gradient also has a lot to say about which kinds of food consumers choose.

“Poorer people and those with lower education tend to pick cheaper products, which are higher in fat, salt, sugar.”

Waiter?

But Rimestad agrees that prices need to come down in the long run if health authorities are to succeed in their campaign, saying that it isn’t an easy task.

Arnhild Haga Rimestad
Arnhild Haga Rimestad
Fotograf Jonassen
When the food industry has to change their products it’s always more expensive in the beginning, but the more they sell, the lower the price becomes. The problem is that I don’t think there’ll be a great demand for keyhole-marked products whilst prices remain high.”

She also believes it’s a matter of communication.

It’s very important that word about the keyhole mark is spread to wholesalers, producers, and grocers. Consumers also have to start demanding these products more than they are doing at the moment.”

And whilst food customers are waiting to be served, Rimestad suggests something they can do for starters.

“It’s cheaper to buy apples and carrots than chips, and water than fizzy drinks.”



Published on Tuesday, 1st December, 2009 at 09:30 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

This post has the following tags: health, food, keyhole, salt, sugar, fat, fibre, diet, overweight, norwegians, type2, diabetes, cholesterol, heart, disease, unhealthy, poor.





  
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