Nutrition – One of the Hottest Topics in Iceland
  • Nutrition is a popular subject among the Icelandic public and so are various cooking shows on television, cooking books, magazines and recipe websites. The top sellers before Christmas were mostly cooking books and books on “how to make a smoothie”. The cooking shows are both Icelandic and from other countries.
    One of the Icelandic shows focuses both on fish and children. The chef shows a teenager in a simple way how to handle fresh fish and seafood and how to make simple dishes from this healthy and fresh material. A great idea and simple!
    On the scientific level there are number of things ongoing and on the agenda for the coming year.  A number of scientific studies are on the way. These are at doctoral, master and bachelor level, for example studies focusing on infants and vitamin-D and the nutritional status of various groups of patients at the University Hospital of Iceland.

    The clinical nutritionists played a large role at the “Annual Conference of the Icelandic Medical Association” a five day long conference on medical matters including nutrition and rehabilitation, among others. The role of nutritionists was highly appreciated, strengthening the bonds between medical doctors and the nutritionists. 
    The new Nordic recommendations on nutrition were published in 2013 and some of these recommendations have already been incorporated into the daily recommendations for the general public. However, some work is to be done, for example more detailed work on how these new recommendations are presented to the general public and used in everyday work of the nutritionists at all levels. Related to this is the discussion on the labeling of foods. On one hand the Swedish originated “Keyhole symbol” and on the other hand the British originated “Traffic lights”. The former is already used on some food products in Iceland but the traffic lights just started its journey of introduction and discussion.
    The 10th Nordic Nutrition Conference will be held in Norway in March and Iceland will have a few representatives there. The Nordic Nutrition Conference is very important for communication between nutritionists in the north and especially because of the new recommendations and how they are going to be the leading light of our work for the next year.
    The discussion on the origin of food and the required labeling has started and Iceland looks forward to take part in this discussion, but promoting our own products as “Icelandic” and pure is of a great advantage for us and our export throughout the world.

    The city of Reykjavik and their school division is starting a project focusing on meals for the kindergarten children from 2 to 5 years of age. The focus of this project is to create working plans and guidelines for those who prepare and serve foods for the young ones. Nutritionists with various experiences and a parent of a child with multiple allergies are the members of this much-needed group.
    A conference was held to discuss the concepts of low carbohydrate diet and those who attended were from various fields other than nutrition, bringing forth different points of view. In February a day of education on food safety and labeling was held, attracting different individuals from a wide range of fields.
    Iceland is a member of EASO (European Association for the Study of Obesity) and will participate in a conference in Sofia in Bulgaria in May this year. In a world of ever growing obesity and related complications, clear strategies need to be followed by qualified individuals to ensure a quality therapy and lifelong compliance to a healthy lifestyle.
    These are the most visible projects on nutritional level in Iceland at the moment but a great deal of work is done at multiple levels and a web of discussions are undertaken with the aim to improve the quality of nutrition and the health and well being of Icelanders.
    Frida Run Thordardottir, Nutritionist
    ICDA representative for Iceland