Rampaging animals? A demonstration turned riot? No, it’s Saturday at the Swedish pick-n-mix counter. Just in time for the weekend, YLC explains the deal with Lördagsgodis.
Anyone who’s wandered into their local ICA or Konsum on any given Saturday would have noticed the scores of normally healthy Swedes, both tall and small, chucking aside the salmon on crisp bread for what is affectionately known as Lördagsgodis.
Many adults in Sweden still get starry-eyed when reminiscing of going to the sweet-shop as children and getting to pick out their Saturday sweets.
Seen as a mostly harmless tradition – few people actually know that the idea of Lördagsgodis first came to prominence in Sweden in the late 1950s. Strange as it may seem, the idea was based on findings from the controversial Vipeholm Experiments, where patients at the Vipeholm Mental Hospital in Lund were allowed to eat large amounts of sweets in order to deliberately provoke caries for the scientists to investigate if there really was a connection between sugar and dental health.
The sugar industry, along with the dental community, funded the study and, unsurprisingly, researchers discovered that eating enormous amounts of sweets certainly would lead to enormous amounts of dental decay. The result was the then Swedish Medical Board recommending parents and other care-givers limit children’s sweet-eating to one day a week in order to keep the cavities at bay.
And most do – hence the Lördagsgodis. But statistically speaking Swedes eat the most candy of any country in the world – a whopping 17kg per person per annum. Even more surprising considering their reputation of leading relatively healthy lifestyles is that Swedes ingest more than 50kg of sugar each year, with 25% of that coming directly from sweets, which is 3 times the recommended amount, as set by the World Health Organisation.
At the same time Swedish obesity has noticeably increased over the last several decades, to the point where a ‘fat tax’ has been proposed in parliament.
But here’s the deal: After a week of working out and eating healthily, Swedes do love their Saturday sweets and it’s doubtful they’ll be giving it up any time soon.
If you’re living here in Sweden – and particularly if you have children – a Saturday visit to the pick-n-mix at the local grocery store or sweet shop is most likely looming in your future.
Best then to keep your wits about you, give your children a gentle reminder of the dreaded dentist’s chair and a stern warning to stand aside as the hordes of sugar-starved Saturday-shoppers stomp towards the sweet-counter.