The Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR) describe which foods are good for human health. They include recommendations for the intake of nutrients designed to improve diets and provide advice on physical activity for consumers and public-sector institutions. The NNR also form the basis for “the Keyhole” Nordic food label and public-private partnerships such as the Danish Whole Grain logo and the Finnish Heart Symbol. Labelling provides consumers with pointers to healthy choices and helps food manufacturers improve their product development.
The Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Paula Lehtomäki, says that the importance of food for our health and the planet we live in is on the agenda for discussion more than ever before.
“The people and food manufacturers of the Nordic region expect official agencies to provide science-based recommendations that are good for everyone. In this light, we are now launching an open process to form the basis for the Nordic countries’ nutrition policies and to promote healthy and sustainable eating habits in the years to come,” the Secretary General says. She stresses that the prime ministers would like the Nordic countries to work more closely together on the climate issue.
“Work on the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations also helps us to achieve the vision of making the Nordic region the most sustainable and integrated region in the world.”
Work on the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations also helps us to achieve the vision of making the Nordic region the most sustainable and integrated region in the world.
Science and sustainability
The first edition of the NNR was published in 1980, and they are the subject of much international interest. The current version, published in 2012, has been downloaded more than 100,000 times by decision-makers, researchers and students all over the world. Recent research and improved understanding of sustainable food production and consumption mean that the time has come for a scientific re-evaluation and update.
“It's a huge job,” says Henriette Øien, Head of Department at the Norwegian Directorate of Health and chair of the steering group for NNR 2022.
“New research into food and health is being conducted all of the time, and it is more important than ever to conduct systematic reviews of the knowledge we possess in the field of nutrition,” she says.
The challenge for the Nordic region is to encourage sustainable production and consumption as described in the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) no. 12. With this in mind, the focus in the new recommendations will be much more on the links between diet and sustainability, as well as maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing obesity.
Trust, openness and co-operation
More than one hundred experts will contribute to the new edition of the NNR. Professor Rune Blomhoff of the University of Oslo is the project manager. Each of the Nordic countries has two representatives in the working group and one in the steering group. Experts from the Nordic region and beyond will review current research on food and diet. An open and scientific approach will form the basis for the process, and it will be clear from the conclusions that the results are based on scientific research.
As an open process, all correspondence will be on a publicly accessible web page so that everybody can see what is being said and by whom.
“The point of this openness about the way we work and about the scientific basis for the nutritional recommendations is to build trust in the recommendations among the general population,” Øien says.
Open consultation – play your part!
The first step in the process is to identify and delineate themes and nutrients where there is a need for a new, comprehensive and systematic literature review. The deadline for input about proposals for themes based on relevance, new health challenges and new scientific knowledge is 1 November 2019.
The project will be based on scientists in the Nordic region and beyond committing to the work. Experts are, therefore, encouraged to apply to be scientific experts on the project by 1 November. The work will consist of a systematic literature review and writing and revising chapters of the final report.
FACTS ABOUT THE NNR
The NNR constitute the scientific basis for national nutrient recommendations and food-based dietary guidelines in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The international co-operation between the five Nordic nations has resulted in five previous editions of the NNR.