On Tuesday, 10 November, Norway's annual ‘5-a-day Europe’ survey was presented. It shows that people in that country are eating fewer fruits and vegetables. That is due to the anti-corona measures, while the amount being eaten has hardly changed in the past three years.
Only one in five eating recommended amounts
The 2020 figures show that only one in five Norwegians is eating the recommended five pieces per day. On average, they eat 3,2 of the five. The Norwegian Fruit and Vegetable Information Office wants to try and reverse this trend. So, they invited their European counterparts and a panel to a webinar. These people have a knowledge of both nutrition and public health, as well as having political resources.
Guttorm Rebnes, the Information Office's Director, says, " As everyone knows, it doesn't help to keep doing the same if it's not effective. Together, we must gain new insights."
How to reverse the trend
People make countless subconscious choices every day. These aren't always well-thought-through. And are often made on auto-pilot. Affecting these subconscious choices could be key to changing people's behavior.
Nudging will work well. Nudging is where people are subtly encouraged to behave in a certain way. People need to be reminded to eat enough fruit and vegetables. Whether they're in the shop, a canteen, or a hotel. Studies show that people make healthier choices when they can see healthy products.
Samira Lekhal is the head doctor at Vestfold Hospital's Morbid Obesity Department. She also chairs GreeNudge. She says, “GreeNudge has studies that show that fruit and vegetable nudging works especially well for those who eat these the least. This is a positive opportunity for shops. They can contribute to better public health. They can also increase sales of this product category."
Ole Berg of Helsedirektoratet (The Norwegian Health Directorate) stresses that it's nutritionally advised to eat at least five pieces of fruit and vegetables per day. He supports the good initiatives contained in the Letter of Intent for better nutrition. This declaration has been signed by more than 100 parties from the food industry.
One of its goals is to increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables by 20% by 2021. "We know we need a long-term perspective to achieve the desired changes. We're already working on a new declaration of intent that will last until 2025," Berg says.
At the webinar, Erik Fagerlid asked the panel where the focus could be to bring about this change. Several good regulations were mentioned. These include having fruit and vegetables at preschool and free school fruit. Vegetables should also be available at after-school care facilities. Supermarket fresh produce aisles can be further optimized. And fruit and vegetables can be further developed. This should also make a positive impact.
About the survey
This autumn is the fourth year that Kantar has carried out the '5-a-day Europe' survey nationwide. It's on behalf of the Norwegian Fruit and Vegetable Information Office. It shows how Norway compares to other European countries in terms of the 5-a-day nutritional advice.