Food-based dietary guidelines

Food-based dietary guidelines - Denmark

Official name

The Official Dietary Guidelines - good for health and climate (De officielle Kostråd – godt for sundhed og klima).

Publication year

Denmark published its first set of food-based dietary guidelines in the 1970s. They were revised in 1995, 2005, 2008 and 2013. In 2021, they were revised again, integrating a focus on both healthy and climate-friendly food.

Stakeholder involvement

The Official Dietary Guidelines – good for health and climate (published 2021) were developed in a process led by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, under the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries.

The development process also involved the Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities, the Danish Health Authority, the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), as well as consumer organizations, non-governmental organizations and the food- and retail industry.

The dietary guidelines are endorsed by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries.

Products, resources and target audiences

Products

Target audience

The Official Dietary Guidelines – good for health and climate (leaflet)

General population (2-65 years), health workers, educators, teachers, food professionals, policy makers

The Official Dietary Guidelines – good for health and climate (poster)

General population (2-65 years), health workers, educators, teachers, food professionals, policy makers

Website (in Danish)

General population (2-65 years), health workers, educators, teachers, food professionals, policy makers

Website (brief information in English)

International stakeholders

Guidance for sustainable healthy diets - Scientific background for revising the Danish FBDGs

Academic community, policy makers, educators

The evidence-base for the Danish guidelines for diet and physical activity

Academic community, policy makers, educators

Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2012, Integrating nutrition and physical activity

Academic community, policy makers, educators

Development process

For the first time ever Denmark’s Official Dietary Guidelines, published in January 2021, do not only guide Danes on how to eat healthier, but also on how to eat more climate-friendly.

The main objectives of the dietary guidelines are to increase awareness, motivation and behavioural changes among the Danish population, resulting in improved eating habits with regard to both health and climate.

The development process was initiated in 2020 and was led by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration who was responsible for the process.

The work was based on a scientific evidence report ‘Guidance for sustainable healthy diets - Scientific background for revising the Danish food-based dietary guidelines’ published by the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in February 2020.

I addition, the evidence report behind the previous dietary guidelines The evidence-base for the Danish guidelines for diet and physical activity (2013) was also included as background material, as well as the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2012, Integrating Nutrition and physical activity (2014).

The development process involved workshops and dialogue with a broad range of stakeholders including the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities, the Danish Health Authority, the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark, consumer organizations, non-governmental organizations as well as the food - and retail industry.

The development process also included a pre-test of understanding and interpretation of the dietary guidelines among Danish consumers.

Implementation

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration is responsible for the implementation of the Official Dietary Guidelines in Denmark. The implementation plan includes a wide range of communication activities as well as efforts to achieve structural changes making it easier to eat healthier and more climate friendly.

The main strategy to implement the dietary guidelines is to cooperate with key stakeholders including consumer organizations, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations as well as the food - and retail industry.

The cooperation with external stakeholders will for example include continuous dialogue within The Danish Food Partnership for Health and Climate and the Danish Healthy Food Council, which are two voluntary public-private partnerships initiated by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries in Denmark. Focus of The Danish Food Partnership for Health and Climate is for example on reformulation and portions-size reductions, campaigns, labelling, branding and monitoring, including a focus on increasing the availability and consumer awareness of the green Nordic keyhole label and the Danish Whole Grain Logo.

In addition, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration have in 2021 initiated a work to update the official recommendations targeted food professionals in public and private kitchens, including kitchens in kindergartens, schools, other educational institutions and worksite canteens. This work will support the promotion of both healthy and climate-friendly food and meals at arenas where Danes eat many of their everyday meals.

In 2021 and forward, additional initiatives will be engaged. These initiatives include a new project with focus on the development of visual tools or materials, helping consumers to eat according to the Official Dietary Guidelines – good for health and climate. 

Evaluation

To gain insight into the Danes' dietary habits, the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) has since 1985 conducted national dietary surveys among Danish children and adults. Since 2000, the institute has also collected detailed data on the Danes' physical activity and weight. In 2021, DTU will initiate a survey, with a focus on to what degree the Danes are eating according to the Official Dietary Guidelines published in January 2021.

The key indicators of the study will for example include the average intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, fish, meat and dairy products, as well as the intake of less healthy foods, i.e. foods that are energy dense, low-nutrient, high in sugar, unhealthy fats and salt.

Further, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration will regularly collect data and evaluate awareness and knowledge of the Official Dietary Guidelines among the Danish consumers.

Sustainability

Sustainability is addressed in the Danish Official Dietary Guidelines primarily by a focus on how to eat a both healthy and climate-friendly diet. In addition to the health and climate aspects, the dietary guidelines also take the Danish food culture, eating habits, and the availability of foods in Denmark into account.

The focus on how to eat both a healthy and climate-friendly diet, is highlighted by the overall guideline, encouraging Danes to ‘eat plant-rich, varied and not too much’.

More specifically the dietary guidelines stress the importance of eating more legumes, vegetables, fruit, wholegrain and nuts – i.e. foods that benefit health, and at the same time have a low climate footprint. The guidelines also encourage the Danes to cut down on meat – especially meat from four-legged animals and processed meat, as this would also benefit both health and climate. Especially beef and lamb should be limited, as these types of meat are among the foods with the highest climate food print.

Furthermore, the guidelines encourage the Danes to choose vegetables oils such as rapeseed and olive oil instead of solid fats (such as butter), and to eat low-fat dairy products in adequate amounts. Finally, it is recommended to eat les sweet, salty and fatty food and to quench the thirst with water, as this would also benefit both health and climate.

In addition to a focus on healthy and climate-friendly food, the Danish Dietary Guidelines also encourage Danes to choose vegetables and fruit in season, to go for the environmentally friendly choices of fish and to reduce food waste. The importance of reducing food waste is addressed by five guidelines.

More information can be found in the evidence report here

Food guide

The Danish food guide consists of six different coloured boxes with photos of six different food groups. The size of each coloured box on the poster constitutes a visual indication of each food group’s proportion in a healthy and climate friendly diet. In addition, the dietary guideline for each food group is presented, and an ‘overall’ guideline is highlighted, encouraging the Danes to “Eat plant-rich, varied and not too much”.

In the leaflet ‘The Official Dietary Guidelines – good for health and climate’ each of the dietary guidelines are described in more details and the recommended or adequate amounts for each food group is given.

Recommendations 

For the general Danish population between 2-65 years of age:

  • Eat plant-rich, varied and not too much
  • Eat more vegetables and fruit
  • Eat less meat – choose legumes and fish
  • Eat wholegrain foods
  • Choose vegetable oils and low-fat dairy products
  • Eat less sweet, salty and fatty food
  • Thirsty? Drink water  

Key additional messages

  • The Official Dietary Guidelines – good for health and climate are recommendations for a healthy and climate-friendly diet. By following all the dietary guidelines, you will cover your need for vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients. You will also find it easier to maintain a healthy body weight and lower the risk of lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
  • What we eat and drink affects both our health and the climate. Therefore, the Official Dietary Guidelines show how you can eat a both healthy and climate-friendly diet.
  • Enjoying healthy and climate-friendly meals can offer pleasure and well-being while playing an important role in your social life.
  • Most of the Danish population can benefit from following the dietary guidelines.
  • The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration is behind the Official Dietary Guidelines. The guidelines are based on scientific evidence and advice from the National Food Institute at Technical University of Denmark – DTU, and are developed in dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders.
  • Follow the Official Dietary Guidelines – and make a difference for both your health and the climate.

 

 

Share this page