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How do people eat in Germany?

More vegetables, but less fruit and too much meat overall: the German Nutrition Society examines the Germans’ eating habits in its latest Nutrition Report.

© picture-alliance/ZB

If you were to whisk someone from the Middle Ages to our times, they would think they had landed in the land of milk and honey: delicious, rich food in abundance, affordable for (almost) everyone. It must be a dream, surely? Actually it’s true. However, the lavish range unfortunately also has its downsides. For decades Germany has been suffering from a veritable epidemic of obesity, and the incidence of type II diabetes is also increasing at a worrying rate. The causes are a lack of physical exercise combined with excessive consumption of high-calorie foods and drinks by large sections of the population.

According to the latest (12th) Nutrition Report published in December 2012, German men have an average daily intake of 2,252 kilocalories (kcal), women 1,683 kcal. Men consume 36 percent of this in the form of fats, women 34 percent. These are high figures are a cause for concern, especially because these quantities consist mostly of saturated fatty acids. The study was presented by the German Nutrition Society (DGE), whose experts primarily criticize the very high level of meat consumption. Although meat contributes to a good supply of protein – plus a number of vitamins and trace elements – it also leads to an excessive intake of cholesterol and saturated fatty acids. Furthermore, excessive meat consumption increases the risk of cancer. The DGE experts advise us not to eat more than 300 to 600 grams of meat a week. German women currently consume at least 570 grams of meat a week, and men about twice that amount.

Consumption of vegetables has increased slightly over the past twelve years, while fruit consumption has fallen slightly. Since the consumption of whole-grain products is still too low, the majority of people in Germany do not reach the roughage-intake target of 30 grams a day. By contrast, the continuing decline in alcohol consumption is encouraging. The Germans are slaking their thirst more and more with mineral water. However, the DGE is critical of the growing consumption of sugary drinks.

International Green Week, 18-27 January 2013 in Berlin