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Enhanced quality of 'LIFE' through Nordic food

The world's largest research project into children's health and well-being will help solve global problems such as obesity, obesity-related diseases and learning difficulties. The research project, which is headed by Professor Arne Astrup, is based at LIFE - Faculty of Life Sciences at University of Copenhagen and will focus on a new eating concept, termed the "New Nordic Diet" which is based on regional food products.

Overweight has been estimated to affect between 30 and 80% of adults and up to one third of children in Europe. In the US, 34% of the population are obese. All over the industrialised world, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents has increased dramatically in recent decades. Adult lifestyles, including overweight and other nutritional disorders, are normally established during childhood.

A new centre at University of Copenhagen, headed by Professor Arne Astrup from LIFE, who is also the President of the International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO), has received a donation of DKK 100 million (EUR 13.3 million) from the Nordea Foundation to fund a wide-reaching research project that will strengthen public health by focussing on child health, well-being and welfare. The project includes a large school-based interventions study covering 1600 children.

The five-year research project is the largest of its type in the world, and puts Denmark at the forefront internationally in solving problems such as obesity and learning difficulties. The project also expects to contribute valuable knowledge about preventing obesity-related illnesses in general.

New Nordic Diet

One of the project's focus areas will be the development of a new meal concept to be introduced in the national school system and taught to families with young children. Inspired by the new Nordic cuisine movement and the internationally recognized achievements of Nordic chefs in general and 2 star Michelin restaurant noma in particular, the meals will draw heavily on ingredients native to the Nordic region. It is one of the visions of the research project is to make New Nordic Diet the twenty-first century's answer to the Mediterranean diet.

The intervention studies will be based on the New Nordic Diet that will be developed through a multidisciplinary interplay between the fields of gastronomy, nutrition, user-driven innovation, food sociology and economics. Through the intervention studies, the impact on health, learning, behaviour, food economics and sustainability will be investigated.

The project consists of work packages (WPs) that are organised in an integrated, parallel and stepwise fashion so that the outcome of each of the WPs can be used for the ongoing and subsequent WPs. You can read more about the work packages of the project at

As projects emerge from the research project, they will be incorporated into the study programmes at LIFE, in particular the Human Nutrition and Gastronomy & Health programmes.


Contact: Professor Arne Astrup
University of Copenhagen

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