Obesity among Icelandic children is becoming less common while the development of weight problems among the middle-aged is staggering, according to nutritionist Ólafur Gunnar Saemundsson. He believes labeling of food products might help.
The majority of Icelanders eat in excess. Photo by ESA.
The physique of Icelanders has changed in recent years and decades with obesity becoming a growing problem; according to yesterday’s news, Icelanders have become the fattest nation in Europe and the second-fattest western nation after Americans.
Even so, Icelanders exercise more than they used to but studies show that people consume 200-300 calories more per day than they did about a decade ago and that is considered the main reason for this development, ruv.is reports.
“Just a small Prince Polo [chocolate bar], to name an example, is 40 grams and 200 calories. One bottle of soda is 227 calories. It is incredibly easy to add calories and end up with 200-300 calories in excess,” Saemundsson stated.
But it’s not just the food that counts; the constant compulsion to go on diets contributes to this development as well. “It is known that if people starve themselves and the intake of calories is very low for a long time it has a permanent effect on the body’s metabolism,” he added.
Saemundsson is in favor of improved labeling of food products which is underway according to a new European regulation. The labeling might also help those who eat too little for the amount of calories they burn through exercise.
He said new studies indicate that obesity is decreasing among children while it’s the reverse among adults. “One possible reason is the increased awareness of the need for our children to eat enough healthy food [in school lunches].”
“However, when middle-aged Icelanders are concerned, the development is staggering and us men have now exceeded the women in terms of rates of obesity and that is a matter of great concern,” Saemundsson concluded.