Image: Erduforsød.dk

Wanted: Tips on how to reduce the intake of sweet treats

Tuesday 17 Sep 19
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Contact

Anja Pia Biltoft-Jensen
Head of group, Senior Researcher
National Food Institute
+4535 88 74 25

Danes are world record holders when it comes to eating sweets, which has an impact on children's health. In a new project, the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, are going to help Danish families to healthier daily lives with fewer sweet treats. The researchers behind the project are keen to hear from everyone who has specific ideas, good tips and fun tricks on how achieve a more balanced intake of sugary and healthy foods and drinks.

Danes are world record holders when it comes to eating sweets and this has an impact on children's health. Danish children’s intake of sugary foods (sweets, chocolate and cake) and sugary drinks (e.g. soft drinks, cordial and ice tea) is up to five times higher than what a healthy diet allows for. Studies show that the intake is particularly large during weekends, and that the weekend intake has increased by as much as 25% since 2005.

In the short term, this can risk causing poor dental health and overweight. Later in life, overweight can lead to an increased risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A new three-year project from the National Food Institute aims to make it easier to achieve a more balanced intake of sugary and healthy foods and drinks. The project—called ’Are you too sweet?’—has received funding from the Nordea-fonden.

Good tips and ideas wanted
"We want to contest the notion that ‘hygge’ goes hand in hand with sugary foods and drinks. Who says that ’hygge’ can’t be playing a game of cards rather than eating a bowl of sweets? Or getting a big fruit platter ready for sharing?"
Senior Researcher Anja Biltoft-Jensen

The researchers hope that Danes all around the country want to contribute to the project by giving their best tips on how to have good family times but with fewer sugary foods and drinks such as cake, sweets, ice cream, chocolate, soft drinks and cordial.

Along with the school health service and the child dental care in Hvidovre municipality, game developers Serious Games Interactive and 100 families with young children, the National Food Institute plans to use the submitted ideas to develop specific tools and strategies, which families can use in the daily lives to better balance their intake of sugary and healthy foods and drinks. Furthermore, the National Food Institute plans to develop new and engaging educational materials that health and dental care providers can use.

“We want to motivate rather than scare people, as it is really about striking the right balance between sweet and healthy. Of course children may eat sweets and drink soft drinks, but not too much and not too often. We want to make it very clear, also visually, how much room there is in a child’s diet for sugary foods and drinks. But we rely on the Danish public to provide us with good tips on how to reduce the intake and still enjoy life,” Senior Researcher Anja Biltoft-Jensen from National Food Institute says. 

It is her hope that the project will challenge the classic Danish ’hygge’ phenomenon. ”We want to contest the notion that ‘hygge’ goes hand in hand with sugary foods and drinks. Who says that ’hygge’ can’t be playing a game of cards rather than eating a bowl of sweets? Or getting a big fruit platter ready for sharing?”

Danes can submit their good tips and ideas on how to maintain the fun family with fewer sweet drinks and foods via the website: Erduforsoed.dk (website available in Danish only).

FACTS

About children, sugary foods and drinks in Denmark

  • In Denmark, children and young people have a consumption of sugary foods and drinks that is up to five times higher than what a healthy diet allows for.
  • Denmark is the country in the world where the population buys the most sweets. Every year, each Dane buys 6.6 kilos. When including chocolate purchases, every Dane ends up buying an average of 12.3 kilos of sweets and chocolate annually.
  • From 2012 to 2018, the sale of soft drinks has increased by 24%. As such, every single Dane now buys 87 litres of soft drinks annually.
  • Children and young people’s intake of sugary foods on the weekend has increased 25% from 2005-2013.
  • The many extra calories in sugary foods and drinks increases the risk of becoming overweight. The personal and societal costs are particularly great when it comes to childhood overweight as it increases the risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer later in life.
  • A study shows that parents’ perception of how many sugary foods and drinks they may give to their children far exceeds the official recommendations.

About ’Are you too sweet?’
Nordea-fonden is supporting the ’Are you too sweet?’ project with a grant of 11.6 million kroner (approx. 1.5 million Euro).

In the project, the National Food Institute is working with the child dental care and the school health service in Hvidovre municipality, game developers Serious Games Interactive and communications agency FRIDAY. 

They will develop and test new educational materials and guidelines related to children’s intake of sugary foods and drinks.

The child dental care and the school health service care in Hvidovre municipality will find 100 test families and 100 control families within the municipality. The test families will try out everything from guidelines to concrete actions aimed at reducing the families’ intake of sugary foods and drinks. The other 100 families will act as the control group.

An evaluation of the project will take place in May 2021 with a view to possibly continuing it as a national campaign. 

https://www.food.dtu.dk/english/news/nyhed?id=1B872FAB-F2D5-4049-8E83-DBE38B51C9F6&utm_device=web&utm_source=RelatedNews&utm_campaign=The-body-does-not-absorb-genetic-material-from-our-food
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