The worldwide obesity epidemic has been creeping into Scandinavia, and the researchers at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Finland, have been studying how changing diets and lifestyles have started loading pounds onto the people of Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.
Traditionally accustomed to spending large amounts of time engaged in outdoor physical activities, more and more Scandinavians now live a sedentary lifestyle, and have strayed from the healthy foods found in traditional diets.
Noting that Scandinavians tend to eat different foods than people in the Mediterranean region, the researchers decided to test a culturally appropriate diet and see what sort of impact it had on obesity levels.
The study included 4,720 Finns (between the ages of 25 and 74). Diet was assessed, with the researchers looking for consumption of foods in what they called the “Baltic Sea Diet.” The elements they monitored included Nordic fruits and berries, vegetables, cereals, ratio of polyunsaturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids, and consumption of low-fat milk, fish, red and processed meat, total fat, and alcohol. Height, weight and waist circumference were measured, and body mass index (BMI) values were calculated.
The research team found that men in the highest consumption of the Baltic Sea Diet were more likely to have normal waist circumference. The association appeared to be stronger in younger age groups compared with older age groups. Nordic cereals and alcohol were found to be the most important Baltic Sea Diet components related to waist circumference. The researchers concluded that a combination of Nordic foods, especially cereals and moderate alcohol consumption, is likely to be inversely associated with abdominal obesity.
What makes the Nordic cereal so healthy is the inclusion of whole grains, either oats or rye. Try to cook these grains yourself for breakfast instead of pre-packaged cereals—you should find it has a beneficial effect on your weight.
Sources for Today’s Articles:
A Healthy Alternative to the Mediterranean Diet
Kanerva, N. et al., “Adherence to the Baltic Sea diet consumed in the Nordic countries is associated with lower abdominal obesity,” Br J Nutr. May 10, 2012: 1-9.