Icelanders are among the largest fish-consuming nations in the world and it is often linked to the longevity and good health of the nation in general, but now there are some glimmers in the air in that respect, as fish consumption, especially young people, has declined significantly in recent years.
At a meeting at IFL today, ways to stay afloat were discussed, preferably to increase fish consumption, especially for younger people, as it is the people who will inherit the land and also the buyers in the coming decades. According to the National Food Council's national survey of the diet of adult Icelanders, fish consumption has fallen sharply in a few years or by at least 30% and most among young people (Laufey Steingrímsdóttir et al. 2003) and this causes many concerns, both health authorities and producers and sellers of seafood.
Declining fish consumption, especially among younger people, is partly due to a change in consumption patterns in general, with an increased supply of various meat products and ready-made dishes such as chicken and pork, pizzas and pasta dishes. Surveys also show that eating habits and family habits have changed significantly in recent decades and this has an effect on consumption habits.
At the meeting held at IFL this morning, Icelandic was introduced project, which aims to promote the consumption of seafood, especially with young people in mind. The purpose of the project, funded by the ACP Fund, is to promote health and improve the image of marine products.
Up to now, work has been done to establish focus groups with the participation of young people, and this has been done in collaboration between IFL and the H.Í. There have also been discussions with fish sellers and restaurants and draft questions for a consumer survey that will take place in the coming months.
Taste is an e-d that is earned and therefore it is important that children have access to good ingredients from the beginning. With the introduction of canteens in pre-schools and primary schools, it is likely that children will eat most fish meals in such places, and therefore it is desirable that the quality is maintained.
Access to fresh fish is also different, for example in the case of Emilía Martinsdóttir, who manages the project on behalf of IFL, that about half of all fish shops in the capital area are in the central and western part of Reykjavík and in Seltjarnarnes. On the other hand, there are less than 10% fish shops for the whole of Grafarvogur, Grafarholt and Árbær, where a lot of children and teenagers live. Admittedly, this does not tell the whole story as fish (usually frozen) is sold in most discount stores.
Participants in the project are the Social Sciences Institute H.Í., the Laboratory of Nutrition at LSH and SH-services, as well as IFL.