New research of Nordic countries has shown that a wider variety of foods is more effective in preventing obesity than simply reducing carbs and fats.
The study, co-authored by Ingibjörg Gunnarsdóttir, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Iceland, found that a diet using a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and nuts is the best protection against obesity. At the same time, meat, refined flour and sugar were the most likely to cause weight gain.
We found probable evidence for high intake of dietary fibre and nuts predicting less weight gain, and for high intake of meat in predicting more weight gain. Suggestive evidence was found for a protective role against increasing weight from whole grains, cereal fibre, high-fat dairy products and high scores in an index describing a prudent dietary pattern. Likewise, there was suggestive evidence for both fibre and fruit intake in protection against larger increases in WC [waist circumference]. Also suggestive evidence was found for high intake of refined grains, and sweets and desserts in predicting more weight gain, and for refined (white) bread and high energy density in predicting larger increases in WC. The results suggested that the proportion of macronutrients in the diet was not important in predicting changes in weight or WC. In contrast, plenty of fibre-rich foods and dairy products, and less refined grains, meat and sugar-rich foods and drinks were associated with less weight gain in prospective cohort studies.
Statistics from the World Health Organisation show that obesity has increased globally over the past 30 years. In fact, global obesity has doubled between 1980 and 2008 alone.
While Iceland does grow some produce, it imports most of its fruits and vegetables. Variety of such products is not as yet comparable to other Nordic countries.