Three years after 70 groups from across the food, sports, health and education sectors signed an agreement with the government to get the Dutch population to adopt more healthy lifestyles, most of the targets have been missed, according to an evaluation by public health body RIVM.
The agreement sets out a string of ambitions on obesity, smoking and exercise to reach by 2040, with intermediate annual targets. Of the 39 targets which should have been reached by 2020, just 13 were accomplished, of which nine related to tobacco, the RIVM said.
For example, tobacco taxes have gone up, pension funds have cut back on their investments in tobacco and fewer youngsters are likely to start smoking.
By contrast, the number of children aged four to 18 who are overweight has actually increased by 1.5 percentage point to 14.9% and there has been no change in the number of overweight adults. Just 40% of school canteens are servicing healthy food – when the target was 50%.
However, the number of adults who are drinking too much has gone down from 8.5% to 6.9%, although that may be due to coronavirus and the closure of cafes and clubs.
The RIVM says that more needs to be done to tackle excessive drinking and obesity in particular. The introduction of a tax on sugar and a minimum price for alcohol are among the options which have been used elsewhere, RIVM researcher Anoukh van Giessen told broadcaster NOS.
Junior health minister Paul Blokhuis, who is in charge of the agreement from the government side, said that it would be up to the next cabinet to push more measures through.
He earlier rejected the idea of a tax on sugar.
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