Huge interest and considerable debate at launch of new nutrition recommendations

The launch of NNR2023 was noticed by the largest news media in all the Nordic countries with headlines such as “Nordic meat experts to reduce meat intake dramatically – one-third must go” and “New advice: Eat even less meat and avoid alcohol”. 

In the first 24 hours after its publication, the new report had been downloaded 18,000 times. 

The stricter recommendations regarding meat consumption are the subject of intense discussion, not least in relation to the countries’ agricultural policy and degree of self-sufficiency.  

“We’re presenting science and evidence for the transition towards the Nordic vision. Second to this is national policy,” comments Karen Ellemann, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, which commissioned and funded the report looking at our food consumption. 

Food driving the green transition

During the launch event, several Nordic and international experts discussed how we can create the conditions for sustainable and healthy diets in line with Agenda 2030 and what’s required to implement the new recommendations in the countries. 

Stefanos Fotiou, from FAO, highlighted the importance of joint strategies for sustainable and healthy food. At the current pace, it won’t be possible to achieve any of the global sustainable development goals (SDGs).  

“Food systems can be used as an important tool for the green transition. The transformation of our food systems offers huge mitigation potential, but also for greater social justice and prosperity,” says Stefanos Fotiou of FAO. 

Climate and biodiversity crisis won’t wait

The Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2023, which are based on the best available science on food consumption, health, and the environment, are welcomed by the WWF.  

“Changing diets is the single one thing we can do that has the greatest mitigation potential,” says Joao Campari from the WWF, who is calling on the countries to take action. 

“We need to remember that time is of the essence; the climate and biodiversity crisis wait for no one. We’re not moving quickly enough and delaying action will come at a big cost,” he continues.  

Expectation that the countries will follow recommendations

The day after the launch, NNR2023 was presented to the Nordic ministers responsible for agriculture and food policy.  Professor Rune Blomhoff, who is the project leader for the new edition of the NNR, urged the ministers to heed the scientific advice. 

“We expect all the Nordic countries to follow the NNR2023 framework and define ambitious quantitative recommendations for the environment and climate,” says Rune Blomhoff.  

Even Iceland’s Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries emphasised the importance of making bold decisions for future generations. 

“The NNR2023 should serve as a strong call to action. Our traditional industries must rise to the challenge of meeting the expectations of the next generation of consumers, who prioritise the environmental impact of food. We can be brave and we must be,” says Svandís Svavarsdóttir, Iceland’s Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries.

Facts/Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2023, NNR2023  

  • The recommended intake or reference values have changed significantly compared to the previous edition for nine nutrients: vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin C, thiamin, calcium, zinc, and selenium. 
  • Legumes: Greater consumption is recommended, mainly for environmental reasons. 
  • Alcohol: Since no safe limit for alcohol consumption can be provided, the recommendation in NNR2023 is that everyone should avoid drinking alcohol. If consuming alcohol, the intake should be low. This recommendation also applies to women who are breastfeeding. A more restrictive recommendation (total abstinence) applies to children, adolescents, and pregnant women.   
  • Grains: An increased intake of whole grains is supported by the positive impact on both health and the environment. It is recommended to eat at least 90 grams of whole grains per day. 
  • Vegetables, fruit, and berries:  It is recommended to eat between 500 and 800 grams or more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, and berries per day.  
  • Fish: An increased intake of fish from sustainably managed stocks is supported by the positive impact on both health and the environment. It is recommended to consume between 300 and 450 grams per week, of which at least 200 grams per week should be fatty fish.  
  • Red meat: For health reasons, it is recommended not to consume more than 350 grams of red meat per week. The quantity of processed red meat should be as low as possible. For environmental reasons, the consumption of red meat should be significantly lower than 350 grams. 
  •  The Nordic Nutrition Recommendations form the scientific basis for national nutritional guidelines and food-based dietary advice in the Nordic and Baltic countries.  
  •  International co-operation between the countries has resulted in five previous editions of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations, the first of which was published in 1980. 
  • The last version, from 2012, has been downloaded more than 300,000 times by decision-makers, researchers, and students worldwide.