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Limit saturated fat (Indicator 21)

Published Updated

The indicator describes the following: Adoption of national policies that limit saturated fatty acids and virtually eliminate partially hydrogenated vegetable oils in the food supply.

The indicator describes the following: Adoption of national policies that limit saturated fatty acids and virtually eliminate partially hydrogenated vegetable oils in the food supply.


1995–2000: Collaboration between the health authorities and the food industry on reducing the use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils in margarine.

Margarine, which may contain up to 30 per cent trans fats was previously the largest source of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils in the Norwegian diet. Collaboration between central health authorities, the food industry and researchers has resulted in negligible levels of trans fats occurring in margarine and baking fat since the mid 1990s. Efforts to reduce the trans fatty acid content of foods have continued. The dietary content of trans fatty acids has fallen from 4 per cent to under 1 per cent of the diet’s energy content over the last 25 years. The amount of trans fats in the diet now meets the recommendation to limit trans fatty acid intake to under 1 energy per cent.

2009/2016: Regulations for voluntary labelling of foodstuffs with the Keyhole.

The keyhole symbol was introduced as a common Nordic labelling scheme in Norway in 2009. Among other things, the regulations set requirements for maximum saturated fat content. Revised regulations, with more stringent requirements, were introduced in 2016. The goal of the labelling scheme is to help consumers to choose healthier foods in time-limited shopping situations. An estimate of the effect on the diet of changing from ordinary foods to foods labelled with the keyhole symbol shows that the average energy percentage from saturated fats may approach the recommended level.

2014: Implementation of regulations on trans fatty acids in foods to limit the content of industrially produced trans fatty acids (partially hydrogenated vegetable oils) in foods sold in Norway.

A maximum of 2 grams of trans fat is permitted per 100 grams fat in a foodstuff.

2014: New recommendations on diet, nutrition and physical activity

The recommendations are based on the most recent edition of Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2012 which was published in 2014. Norway has issued recommendations regarding maximum consumption of saturated fats and trans fats since the 1990s. The new recommendations will be available in 2022.

2014/2015: The Minister of Health will establish a food business community consisting of actors from the grocery sector and trade and industry.

The goal is to reach agreement on specific measures that can improve the population’s diet in line with the dietary recommendations of the Norwegian Directorate of Health and WHO’s targets in relation to reducing salt, sugar and saturated fat.

2016: Adaptations for a healthier diet - Memorandum of understanding among business organisations, food and drink manufacturers and the grocery trade (grocery sector) and the Ministry of Health and Care Services (the health authorities) for 2017-2021.

The agreement includes six priority areas and quantitative targets for the reduction of saturated fat to a maximum of 13 per cent of energy intake by the end of 2021, in addition to quantitative targets for salt and sugar reduction. Monitoring the achievement of targets forms part of the agreement. 

The "National Action Plan for Improved Diet 2017-2021" contains quantitative targets, including targets for saturated fat intake in the population. The plan aims for a maximum of 12 per cent of the energy intake by the end of 2021. It includes interventions for the general population and specific sub-groups. The arenas for the measures include centre-based childcare, school, workplace and the health and care services, as well as collaboration between the public, private and voluntary sectors. In addition to the memorandum of understanding to co-operate with the business community to reduce saturated fat in food where relevant, competence development and communication have been particularly emphasised as measures to reduce saturated fat intake. As part of this, the population should be encouraged to choose foods with less saturated fat, including meat, dairy products and edible fats, which are the main sources of saturated fat.

Global indicator definition

Indicator 21. Adoption of national policies that limit saturated fatty acids and virtually eliminate partially hydrogenated vegetable oils in the food supply, as appropriate, within the national context and national programmes.