20.06.2023 - In an era of changing diets and increasing concern for the health of our planet, the latest edition of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR 2023) stands as a beacon of rigorous science and forward-thinking policy. Unveiled today by Karen Ellemann, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, these guidelines underline a path towards healthier bodies and a more sustainable world.
Ellemann, in her preface to the NNR 2023, articulates the ambition and heart behind this undertaking, saying, "This new edition, the NNR 2023, is our bravest step yet. It will present the best available data for how to eat for the health of our bodies and for our planet." Indeed, this edition integrates environmental aspects into dietary recommendations, reflecting global commitments and the Nordic Vision for a sustainable region by 2030.
But beyond a broader environmental focus, the NNR 2023 takes a particularly strong stance on one aspect of our diets that often goes overlooked - alcohol. The guidelines are clear: there is no safe lower limit for alcohol consumption. They particularly advise children, adolescents, and pregnant women to abstain from alcohol.
Backing up these recommendations is a wealth of scientific data on the health impacts of alcohol. Chronic high consumption of alcohol is associated with a range of diseases, including cancer, liver cirrhosis, and reduced quality of life. The guidelines also highlight alcohol's contribution to adverse environmental impacts, as manufacturing, transportation, and post-use of alcoholic beverages utilize energy and fuel, contributing to our dietary climate impact.
Yet, for all the research supporting these guidelines, the NNR 2023 acknowledges that there are still gaps in our knowledge. Data for evaluating the quantitative environmental impact of alcoholic beverages is still lacking, as are effective methods for investigating the amount and pattern of alcohol intake.
The takeaway is clear. Alcohol is not an essential nutrient; its energy contribution negatively affects diet quality. The NNR 2023 recommends avoiding alcohol intake whenever possible. And if alcohol is consumed, the intake should be very low.
The Nordic Council of Ministers has taken a brave step forward by releasing these recommendations. The council acknowledges the link between our diet and our planet's health, using a wealth of scientific data to guide us towards a healthier, more sustainable future. It's a pioneering effort that, in Ellemann's words, serves as a "labour of love for the several hundred scientists and experts" involved in its creation. As for us, the change towards a healthy and sustainable Nordic region starts with our food and, indeed, our drink.
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