Physical activity

The National Food Institute conducts the Danish National Survey of Diet and Physical Activity, DANSDA, a representative and multidisciplinary survey mapping the diet, physical activity and overweight of the Danish population as well as their determinants. The objective behind this research is also to analyze the relationship between diet, physical activity and health in the Danish population, including prevention of overweight.

One of the Institute’s overall objectives is to promote health and prevent non-communicable diseases. In this context physical activity and diet play equally important roles.

The existing knowledge of the Danish population's level of physical activity and activity pattern is still deficient when it comes to being able to differentiate, focus and strengthen future prevention efforts. Questions which still need to be fully answered include: How active is the population as a whole? How many fulfill recommendations for physical activity? Which population groups are the most inactive (at risk groups)? How has the level of physical activity developed over time?

DANSDA 2011-13 can bring answers to these questions. For the first time, the level of physical activity level has been objectively measured among a broad age range (4-75-year-old) Danes in an objective way using pedometers. About 3700 children, young people, adults and elderly persons participate in the survey. This makes it the largest survey in Europe using pedometers.

It is important to collect objective reference data measured as steps per day to define what level of physical activity can be expected from different age groups in the population. The study will serve to bridge research and practice because all Danes can understand and relate to steps. Thus the study will help to form the basis for implementation of health promotion initiatives that can increase the number of physically active people in Denmark.

Previous research

The National Food Institute has experience and expertise in collecting and reporting activity data – both self-reported and objective – in population studies. Data collected during the first year of DANSDA 2011-2013 shows that about two-thirds of all adult Danes reach the recommended level of activity while one-third exercise too little.

Besides working at the national level, the National Food Institute is also involved in work to monitor physical activity in the Nordic countries where a study is underway to map how many children and adults live up to the recommendations.


Department of Sport Science Linnaeus University, Kalmar
Department of Food, Nutrition and Sport Science, University of Gothenburg


Jeppe Matthiessen
Senior adviser
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 74 44
4 APRIL 2020