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HEALTH

Why more and more Norwegians are drinking alcohol-free beer

10.6 million litres of non-alcoholic beer were sold in Norway in 2019, a new record for the Scandinavian country.

Why more and more Norwegians are drinking alcohol-free beer
File photo: AFP

The figure, which applies to country’s the entire beverage industry, was reported by news bureau NTB on Monday.

Increasing popularity of non-alcoholic beer is linked to a wider selection and improving quality of products, according to Henrik Lund, marketing manager for alcohol-free beer Ringnes, a major Norwegian brewery.

“The good taste experience and the high quality of the brewery means that alcohol-free beer is no longer seen as a substitute for beer with alcohol,” Lund told NTB.

While 2019 was a record year for non-alcoholic beer, 2020 has begun by setting an unprecedented pace for sales of the product.

During the first three weeks of January, sales of non-alcoholic beer increased by as much as 10 percent compared to 2019.

Increasing awareness regarding fitness and health, making more people consider their alcohol intake, is helping to boost the sector, Lund said.

“We believe (the January figures are) primarily due to a stronger focus on health and fitness in January,” he told NTB.

“This is due not only to a desire to reduce alcohol consumption after Christmas and New Year's celebrations, but also the fact that beer without alcohol contains far fewer calories than soda or beer with alcohol,” he added.

READ ALSO: Fylleangst: Norwegian drinking culture's special term

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HEALTH

Why are more people waiting to be given a GP in Norway?

As many as 116,000 people are waiting to be given a "fastlege", or GP, in Norway. So, why are residents having to wait to be assigned a doctor?

More than 116,000 people are waiting to be given a GP in Norway. Pictured is a picture of a stethoscope and some paperwork.
More than 116,000 people are waiting to be given a GP in Norway. Pictured is a picture of a stethoscope and some paperwork. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.

A recent quarterly report from the Norwegian Directorate of Health has revealed that 116,000 people in Norway are on the waiting list to be given a GP

Furthermore, the number of those without a doctor has grown in recent years, with those in rural and northern parts of the country more likely to be left waiting for a GP. 

The current GP scheme in Norway allows everyone to choose their own doctor, who acts as the patients’ main point of contact with the health service. Your GP is also responsible for your primary medical needs, and you are allowed to change your doctor twice a year. 

READ ALSO: How Norway’s health insurance scheme works and the common problems foreigners face

Doctors in Norway have warned that a lack of funding and staff is threatening the GP system. 

“The GP scheme is on the verge of collapsing because there are too few doctors,” Bernand Holthe, a GP on the board of the Nordland Medical Association and a member of GP’s association for the area, told public broadcaster NRK

He says that reform in 2012 to the GP system has left doctors with too much work with not enough resources at their disposal. 

“After the collaboration reform in 2012, the GP scheme has been given too many tasks without receiving a corresponding amount of resources,” Holthe said. 

The government has pledged around 450 million in funding for GPs in its state budget for 2022, which Holthe argues isn’t enough to recruit the number of GPs necessary. 

Nils Kristian Klev and Marte Kvittum Tangen who represent the country’s 5,000 or so GPs also said they were disappointed with the level of funding allocated for doctors in the national budget. 

“The Labor Party was clear before the election that they would increase the basic funding in the GP scheme. This is by far the most important measure to ensure stability and recruitment and it is urgent,” the pair told Norwegian newswire NTB.

Patients have been left frustrated, and in a recent survey on healthcare in the country, one reader of The Local expressed their frustration at not having a GP. 

“I moved from Olso to Tromso, and I’m currently without a GP. Helsenorge didn’t think this was an issue and told me to visit a hospital if I needed to see a doctor. How can a municipality have no places for a doctor? Everyone has a right to a local doctor, and I’ve been left with nothing. All I can do is join a waiting list in the hopes a place turns up before I get ill,” Sinead from Tromsø said in the survey. 

Another reader described the fastlege system as “horrible”. 

Key vocabulary

Fastlege– GP 

Legevakt– Emergency room

Sykehus– Hospital 

Helseforsikring– Health insurance

Legekontor- Doctors office

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