The past decades have seen an avalanche-like increase in candy consumption in Sweden. And while the bags with pick ‘n’ mix candy (“smågodis” to a Swede) get heavier, the health problems increase. Though most people are well aware that candy isn’t good for you, the consumption of treats like “sura nappar” (sour pacifiers), “lakritsbåtar” (licorice boats), and chocolate pralines have increased a lot compared to 30 years ago.

In 1980, the average Swede ate 8.5 kilos (18.7 lbs) candy annually, in 2011 the average Swede ate all of 15 kilos (33 lbs) candy annually (statistics are from Jordbruksverket – the Swedish Board of Agriculture), which means they consume most candy in the world. Add to that the many other food products that are getting more candy-like: Sugary breakfast cereals, and chocolate spreads for sandwiches.
André Persson and Thomas Hedlund have written a book called “Godis åt folket” (Candy for the people) about the problems with the candy craze. Persson recently said in an article in daily DN: “[The idea of Swedes being best in the world at eating candy] ..was put forward as something positive. Suddenly it was part of our cultural identity to eat lots of candy. In other countries it would seem a childish and silly thing to do. But here it became cultural.”
The average annual candy consumption in the U.S. is a mere half of the Swedish, at 11.5g per day or 4.2 kilos per year according to the National Confectioners Association in DC.


Limit candy to when your stomach's full
Persson believes that though much has been written about candy from a health- and consumption perspective, not much has been done to try to reduce consumption. “Livsmedelsverket (the National Food Agency) keeps saying we eat too much hydrogenated fats, salt, sugar and so on, but it hasn’t had a real impact. Sellers have done nothing about it either. The shelves with candy still stand in long rows close to the cashiers, within easy reach for kids.” And it’s the kids who are hit the worst. Dietician Lisen Grafström has a long experience of helping families change their eating habits, and she points out that especially smaller children ought to not eat too much candy since they have a great need for nutritious food with vitamins and minerals.
“A person who eats too much candy has a hard time fulfilling all their nutritional needs,” she says. 100 g of mixed candy means over 350 calories, which amounts to a whole meal for a preschool child. But reducing candy consumption can be difficult. Old habits die hard, so it’s important to make a decision. There are some tips though: Never go shopping hungry or with hungry children. If you are planning on buying candy, then buy smaller amounts. In order to limit the amount of candy you eat, decide to only eat candy after a meal when you are already full.

Ask a Scandinavian: candy from the region is simply also better. Tastier, chewier, more intense in flavor... healthier, more natural even! Judge for yourself - we recently covered one of the first Scandinavian pick & mix candy suppliers to enter the U.S. market: Enjoying the Swedeness of Life Have things changed? To make a generalization, Swedes, Scandinavians even, have traditionally had a preference for the salty (salty herring or anchovy on eggs for breakfast or the salty licorice candy many Scandinavians crave while abroad) while the American diet is often a bit on the sweet side (maple syrup and pancakes or Danish for breakfast).