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April 5, 2005

NORWAY: Norwegian consumers sound off on food and health

Norway's Food Policy Consumer Panel has expanded its study to include the opinions of young citizens in an effort to advise authorities on the public's take on food and health.

Norway’s Food Policy Consumer Panel has expanded its study to include the opinions of young citizens in an effort to advise authorities on the public’s take on food and health.

The seven regional panels aimed to define what comprises a healthy food and diet, what measures should be taken to get people to eat healthier food, and who is responsible for implementing improvements.

The panels and youngsters widely agreed that natural, lean and “green” foods were healthy, but the young segment reported associating these characteristics with a boring diet.

More interesting was the shared conclusion that healthier food was generally more expensive and less accessible, and that a healthy diet and healthy cooking were more time consuming.

The panel and youngsters also reported general scepticism towards trying to force better habits on the public, doubting the effectiveness of trying to tax sweet foods and advising authorities to use humour and a positive spin when informing the public about the health aspects of food.

Consumers agreed least about how much authorities should intervene to improve eating habits, though there was a wide consensus for educational campaigns, especially aimed at children and the youth segment.

The panel is a three-year test project whereby consumers from across the nation can directly address politicians and public authorities on food policy matters. The experiment is funded by Norway’s Food Safety Authority and monitored and maintained by the Consumer Council.

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