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Food-based dietary guidelines

Food-based dietary guidelines - Sweden

Official name

Find your way to eat greener, not too much and to be active!

Publication year

The Swedish National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket) published the revised version of the national dietary guidelines in 2015.

Process and stakeholders

The Swedish national dietary guidelines were developed by the National Food Agency with the support of representatives from other governmental bodies, such as the Public Health Agency and the Swedish Board of Agriculture, the food industry, and research centres. They are based on the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2012 and available scientific evidence of the environmental impact of various food groups, as well as on considerations of the Swedish food culture and the ability of consumers to follow the recommendations.

Open hearings with experts in the fields of public health and nutrition, the food industry, consumer associations and patient organizations, as well as consultations with the general public were conducted. The guidelines were tested with consumers to ensure that they are easily understood in terms of the content of the messages, the language and choice of images.

A technical report has been published that outlines the available evidence that forms the basis for each of the recommendations.

The Swedish dietary guidelines entitled ´Find your way to eat greener, not too much and to be active!´ provide guidance on how to eat healthily and in an environmentally friendly manner. The main aim is to encourage consumers to eat less meat and meat products and more plant-foods including whole grains, vegetables and fruit, as well as healthy oils and some fish to decrease the risk of common chronic diseases in Sweden, especially cardiovascular disease, overweight/obesity, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.

Intended audience

The Swedish dietary guidelines are aimed at healthy adults, adolescents and children 2 years and over and can be adjusted to different food cultures. Recommendations for specific population groups (pregnant and lactating women, infants and children under 2 years of age) and vegetarians are provided separately and can be found on the website of the National Food Agency.

Food guide

Sweden uses a simple and clear graph with three key messages in a traffic light colours. Green: eat more vegetables, fruit, berries, fish, shellfish, nuts, seeds, exercise. Amber: switch to whole grains, healthy fats and low-fat dairy products. Red: eat less red and processed meat, salt, sugar and alcohol.

The model of a plate is used to promote different food groups and to enable consumers to adopt healthy food choices. The plate is used in conjunction with the Keyhole symbol which is a positive label that identifies healthy food products within each food category. Foods labelled with the symbol contain less fat, sugars and salt and more dietary fibre than food products of the same type not carrying the symbol. A simple and positive logo can be a quick and effective tool in a busy purchase situation and appeal to consumer groups. It also stimulates manufacturers to move product innovation, development and reformulation in a healthier direction.

Messages

  • More vegetables and fruit - Eat lots of fruit, vegetables and berries! Ideally, choose high fibre vegs such as root vegetables, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, beans and onions.
  • More seafood - Eat fish and shellfish two to three times a week. Vary your intake of fatty and low-fat varieties, and choose ecolabelled seafood.
  • More exercise - Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day! Take brisk walks, for example, and reduce the amount of time you sit still by taking brief, active breaks.
  • Switch to wholemeal - Choose wholegrain varieties when you eat pasta, bread, grain and rice.
  • Switch to healthier fat - Choose healthy oils when cooking, such as rapeseed oil or liquid fats made from rapeseed oil, and healthy sandwich spreads. Look for the Keyhole symbol.
  • Switch to low-fat dairy products - Choose low-fat, unsweetened products enriched with vitamin D.
  • Less red and processed meat - Eat less red and processed meat, no more than 500 grams a week. Only a small amount of this should be processed meat.
  • Less salt - Choose food with less salt. Use less salt when you cook, but choose salt with iodine when you do use it.
  • Less sugar - Hold back on the sweets, pastries, ice creams and other products containing lots of sugar. Cut back on sweet drinks in particular.
  • Maintain a balance - Try to maintain energy balance by eating just the right amount.
  • The Keyhole - healthy choices made easy - Check for the Keyhole symbol. This is a National Food Agency symbol which can help you to find food containing less sugar and salt, more wholegrain and fibre and healthier or less fat.

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