Danish Whole Grain Partnership

Noncommunicable diseases (NCD’s) have a major impact on the health of European citizens. The prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing worldwide, which can lead to NCD’s as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, cancer and other. During the past 40 years the number of obese people has nearly tripled [1].

Dietary habits are very important in relation to prevent NCD’s caused by overweight. Increased intake of whole grain (WG) can help prevent NCD’s [2]. However, more than 90% of the global adult population does not meet recommendations for the WG intake. During the years from 1990 to 2010 the WG intake even decreased [3]. In Denmark, WG intake similarly decreasing during the 1990’s and 2000’s and in order to counteract [4,5], Denmark established the Danish Whole Grain Partnership in 2009.

The Danish Whole Grain Partnership (DWGP) is based on common evidence and knowledge created in 2007-2008. This work established a WG definition and a recommended daily WG intake of 75 gram per 10 MJ per day based on an average Danish diet. This recommendation was implemented by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration in the national dietary guidelines – initially in 2009 as part of a broader guideline on cereals in which “coarse bread” was replaced by “whole grain bread” [6].

In 2013, a quite specific dietary guideline on whole grain worded “Choose whole grain” was introduced in the Danish national dietary guidelines with the recommendation “Eat at least 75 g whole grain per day” [7].

The philosophy of the DWGP is that the more organizations work towards a common vision and mission, the greater the results [8]. The common vision states “The WGP promotes public health by encouraging Danes to eat more WG" and the mission is “To increase the availability of WG products and public awareness of the health benefits of WG” [9].


The partnership strategy is fourfold: 


     1. Increase availability of tasty WG products

     2. Promote development of new WG products and incorporation of WG in all cereal based products, even products that cannot carry the WG logo

     3. Promote the WG logo and the dietary WG guideline, inform Danes about health benefits of WG, and dispel myths

     4. Help shape new norms about WG through campaigns, events, and structural changes.

All these efforts together ensure both consumer demand and supply of WG products.

A major element in the partnership and the campaign is the WG logo, which guarantees that product contain a high percentage of WG. The logo also prerequisite that the product has a healthy nutritional profile in terms of fat, sugar, salt and dietary fiber corresponding to the Nordic Keyhole Label criteria [10].

The DWGP includes public (Danish Veterinary And Food Administration, DVFA) and private partners (millers, bread, rice and pasta producers, retailers, craft bakeries, cereal producers) as well as health NGOs (Danish Cancer Society, The Danish Heart Foundation, The Danish Diabetes Association). The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA) is responsible for the enforcement of the WG logo criteria.


Through collaboration the public and private partners of the DWGP has obtained a substantial increase in the availability and intake of WG products in Denmark.


Results show a considerable increase in WG intake after the establishment of the DWGP. In the general population (4-75 yr) the average intake increased from 36 g/10 MJ (year 2000-2004) to 63 g/10 MJ (year 2011-2013) based on data from the national dietary surveys (7 day food record) [11]. A very recent analysis from the Cancer Association shows a daily intake of 82 g/10 MJ (2015-2019) and that more than 50 % of the Danes fulfill the recommendation of 75 g/10 MJ (based on Food Frequency Questionnaire) [12]. The results also showed that the number of products carrying the WG logo have increased excessively since the start of the DWGP from 150 registered products in 2009 to more than 1000 products in 2019 [13].



1.   WHO 2018.

2.  National Health Status Report. Health Interview Survey 2014“Determinanti ai sanatatii - Indicele de masa corporala”, p. 155.                       

3.  GBD 2017 Diet Collaborators. Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Diseas. Study 2017. The Lancet. Published Online April 3, 2019. 

4.  Fagt, S., Matthiessen, J., Biltoft-Jensen, A., Groth, M.V., Christensen, T., Hinsch, H.-J., Hartkopp, H., Trolle, E., Lyhne, N., and Møller, A. Udviklingen danskernes kost 1985-2001 [Developments in the Danish dietary intake 1985-2001]. Danmarks Fødevare- og Veterinærforskning, Søborg, 2004.

5.  Mejborn, H., Biltoft-Jensen, A., Trolle, E., and Tetens I. Fuldkorn. Definition og vidensgrundlag for anbefaling af fuldkornsindtag i Danmark. Definition and knowledge base for the recommendation of whole grain intake in Denmark.] National Food Institute, Søborg, 2008.

6.  Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. Kostkompasset – vejen til en sund balance [Dietary compass – the way to a healthy balance]. 2010.

7.  Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. De officielle kostråd [Danish official dietary guidelines]. 2013.

8.  Greve, C., and Neess, R.I. The evolution of the Whole Grain Partnership in Denmark. Published online . Copenhagen, 2014.

9.  Whole grain  official website.

10. Ministry of Enviroment and Food of Denmark - Danish Veterinary and Food Administration official website.

11Mejborn, H., and Fagt, S. Far more whole grains in Danes’ diet. Published online . National Food Institute, Lyngby, 2014.

12Danes are happy with wholegrains - and that is good for health. Published online.


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