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Norway winning war on sugar with consumption down to 44-year low

The consumption of sugar in Norway is down to its lowest level in the last 44 years due to taxes and advertising regulation, according to an official report from the country’s health directorate.

In Norway, consumption of sugar has dropped from 43kg per person per year in 2000 to 24kg in 2018. Within the last ten years, there was a 27% decline in sugar consumption. Currently, sugar consumption is lower than it was in 1975.

The report revealed that people in the country are also eating less chocolate and confectionery. Consumption levels had trebled from 5kg per person per year in 1960 to about 15kg in 2008. In 2018, this had dropped to 12kg per person per year.

There has also been a decline in the sales of sugary drinks. Consumption peaked at 93 litres per person per year in the late 1990s. This was more than double than in the 1950s. The latest figures show that consumption is back to 47 litres per person per year.

To continue its success, the country is determined to lower it further. Speaking to national broadcaster NRK, the country’s divisional director of public health Linda Granlund said: “We are not yet down to the recommended intake, but we have already reached our target for sugar reduction set for 2021.”

A generalised sugar tax was brought in by the Norwegian government in 1922, introduced to generate revenue rather than as a public health measure.

Taxes for confectionery and sugary drinks have been increased substantially. In January 2018, the tax on confectionery on chocolate increased by 83% and the tax on sugary and artificially-sweetened drinks increased by 42%.

In a move to reduce sugar consumption even further, the country is now looking at developing a levy targeting unhealthy foods based on more than just sugar content.

Norway’s credentials on advertising regulation are also impressive. In 2013, manufacturers and suppliers of food agreed to a voluntary ban on marketing unhealthy foods and drinks to youngsters aged younger than 13. In Norway, about one in six children and young people are obese. By comparison, in the UK it is one in three.

The new figures highlight Norway as a country to watch in terms of how well the strategy towards reducing sugar consumption pays off towards improvements in health.

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