When changing the eating habits of a nation, state policies can play an important role. In Helsinki, at the Finnish Environment Institute, researcher Minna Kaljonen argues that in addition to market changes, the state can also support a change in food choices. We need also policies to support the behavioral change. The institutions need to be in place to support the sustainable consumption and sustainable eating. And, in the Nordic countries, we have the nutrition recommendations are a good example, how the policy can play a part in this whole puzzle. It was in 2012 that the Nordic nutrition recommendations integrated the sustainability goals into them. And, they were the very first in the world to integrate the sustainability consideration into nutrition recommendations. We Finns, we eat warm lunch, and we have the strongly, publicly supported lunches from the kindergarten to the elderly homes to the schools and the universities, but also employers support the lunches of their personnel. It was the ways in which we build up the welfare society in Finland, and it has been for a long way how we have supported the healthy eating of Finns. And, now, it's a new challenge to help us eat sustainable as well. A direct push has been made in the Finnish public school to change the eating habits of children. In the new nutrition guidelines, there are these very strong incentives to support plant-based eating even. The vegetarian days has become normal in the Finnish schools but then also having this kind of optional or vegetarian choice that you can choose, whenever you want to. So these are the kind of ways in which they try to support the kids to learn to eat more plant-based food. In the Finnish town of Jyväskylä, the principal of the local school, Paula Puikkonen, has no doubt about the value of school food as an institution. It is most definitively a fact, that it is served to all. It is one of the goods of the welfare society in Finland. It is also well guided and monitored. The food is prepared along the lines of the nutrition recommendations, and it is of good quality. Although meat consumption in Finland has tripled since the 1950s, today’s pupils are setting a new trend. We have a panel of pupils, that get an opportunity to taste and choose the new foods taken to the menus each spring. They taste not only vegetarian food, but also meat and deserts. Do you remember what was chosen this year? They chose minced chicken, vegetarian korma and black currant pudding. Has the vegetarian korma been popular amongst the others now then? Yes, it has. And it makes good sense to begin with the children as they do in Finland. Scientist at University of Copenhagen, Annemarie Olsen, elaborates: Many people think that the things we like and dislike are sort of carved in stone, but that's not the case at all. It is possible to change that both as a child and as an adult. However, most of the things we learn to like as children also follow into our adult life. Studies have actually been done in following the transition from children in kindergarten till they were adults, and seen how there is a sense of stability. Therefore, it makes sense to focus on teaching children to like healthier options. The case for food is that some things we are born to like and others that we have to learn to like. An example would be, we are born with a preference in flavors that are sweet and fat, which is very appropriate because that's how breast milk usually is. When we reach 4 months of age, we begin to like salty flavors. Whereas, we typically reject sour and bitter flavors and have to learn to like them. Besides those, any other preferences are acquired. Our preferences will differ all depending on where we grow up in the world; which foods we are introduced to. When adjusting food habits of children, simple things such as the way in which it is presented can have a huge impact, while rewards carry some big risks. For both children and adults, the way food is displayed can play a big role. We have looked into this, in a series of studies. For example, how the food is prepared: Is it raw, cooked or baked? But also the way the ingredients are sliced. If we take a cucumber for example If it's lying in the fridge, there is a high possibility children won't bother eating it, but if we cut it into shapes or slices and serve them when the children are hungry, then it's more likely that they would want to eat them. A reward system is another approach to help children. It usually works like this: If you eat your peas, you get an ice cream. In most cases, they need to a vegetable or something similar to get a reward. Even though it works, it's not recommended, because it usually results in the children liking the peas or vegetable even less and the reward more. If we use a reward that isn't food, it could be a possible way for the child to try new flavors but it's still not recommended. If we want to change eating habits soon and fast, it’s not enough to focus on the ”do’s and don’t’s”, when it comes to children. It is also possible to change the behavior of adults and especially if we can take advantage of some windows of change in our lives. Our likes can be changed even as adults, but it's more difficult for adults than children. Adults use some of the same approaches as children: either we try the same flavors often, or we can try combining it with flavors we already like, and social context is also of importance. Many life changing events we face as adults, such as moving out or moving in with a partner, or when establishing a family, during these periods we are prone to changes, like eating habits. Social gatherings can also influence what you eat as an adult. What others eat and how many people are present are all factors that influence what we end up eating. Nudging is a phenomenon that can be used to change these eating habits both at a personal and societal level. Nudging can be used to change what you eat and how much you eat. In a small context, nudging can be used to eat something else. For example, if you typically would eat some candy in the afternoon, but really would like to choose a healthier option. Then a solution could be to have some vegetables or fruits sliced already, that you could take out when you felt the need to snack. In a bigger context, nudging can be used to support healthier eating habits like for example reducing in some areas and increasing in others. When we look at the way the supermarket is organised, not having the candy at the end, would result in us buying less of that. At the workplace, if there is tradition of serving cake, it results in employees eating more cake than they had in mind, simply because it is there. So if we change that to fruits or vegetables, we would eat healthier. Another suggestion would be having smaller plates in the cafeteria to avoid a waste of food.