Fat But Happy Part Two (KH)

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Katharina Hauptmann's picture

A few days ago, the British TV station Channel 4 aired a documentary called The World's Best Diet exploring the different dietary habits of the world. And Iceland made top of the list as country with the healthiest diet.

This actually made me laugh, that must be a joke. How the hell did Iceland make it to the top of that list?

Just last year it was reported that Iceland yet again made it among the fattest nations so how can Icelanders have the healthiest diet?

Isn’t that a contradiction?

What about all those beloved pylsa (hot dogs), hamburgers with fries, kleinur (twisted donut) and appelsín (Icelandic orange soda) people indulge in?

When looking into how the documentary came up with their facts, I found this on Channel 4’s website: “Icelandic diet focuses on the benefits of the country’s traditional foods rather than its contemporary eating habits.”

Ok, so Icelanders traditionally eat a lot of fish such as dried fish (harðfiskur) and so on, but Icelanders also love fast food and sugary drinks. And if we are just looking at the country’s traditional foods, how can Iceland’s diet appear very healthy to anyone? Apart from the fish there are all kinds of sheep products on the menu such as ram’s testicles, liver sausage or singed sheep’s head. It is not like there was huge section of vegetables or a lot of different fruit available.

Channel 4 also explains they took factors like rates of obesity and alcohol intake into account which makes me wonder as Icelanders drink a lot of alcohol and are among the fattest nations, as I’ve already mentioned.

So far it seems as if the documentary is misleading and makes people all over the world think Icelanders have the healthiest diet when, in fact, they simply don’t.

I admit I haven’t seen the documentary because it wasn’t available online, but from what I’ve gathered it seems like the show’s researchers haven’t been to Iceland.

And what’s the use of talking about the world’s best diet when just referring to traditional food when people don’t eat like this in their daily lives?

I wouldn’t go so far as saying that Iceland has the unhealthiest diet, though, but I certainly wouldn’t describe the country’s food habits as healthy but rather average at best.

Icelanders might be fat and eating a unhealthily but at least they are also happy, as I explored in a previous column. And today Icelanders can also be proud of being the most peaceful nation.

Fat and unhealthy but happy and peaceful.

Katharina Hauptmann – katha.hauptmann@gmail.com

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.