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Belgians buck ‘chips with everything’ image

Published on 18/11/2004

18 November 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgians have emerged from an in-depth study into their eating habits with a healthier new image.

The nation has a reputation for enjoying good cuisine, but its dishes have until now been considered rich – few vegetarian dishes and a high proportion of meats, served with chips and calorie-high sauces.

However, a book to be released on November 25, entitled 100 ans d’appetit (“100 years of appetite”), concludes that the modern Belgian eats quick, healthy food and is concerned with nutrition, La Libre Belgique reported on Thursday.

The Food Industry Federation (Fevia) interviewed 600 Belgians by phone about their cooking habits, food shopping and meals. Giving the results, the book traces the evolution of eating in Belgium , from 1925 until the present day, as well as predicting future developments expected until 2025.

The book highlights the state of the nation’s cuisine in four key years: 1925, 1955, 1975 and 2005.

Today, the average Belgian family is spending 12 percent of its budget on food, compared to the 60 percent it spent in 1850.

Few people nowadays are slaving over a hot stove – only 15.5 percent of those interviewed said they took at least an hour to prepare their main meal, and most of those people were aged between 51 and 65 years old.

Furthermore, almost two-thirds of those interviewed admitted to using a ready meal, even if more than half of those who did improved its taste by adding salt or spices.

As well as convenience food, scientific health foods have taken off, according to Fevia, with 46 percent of Belgians stating they have used a food or drink designed to reduce their cholesterol and half those surveyed saying they had taken vitamin supplements.

Almost all Belgians felt that it was up to them to tackle problems like obesity, with 40 percent saying they had been on a diet and half saying they ate a health food from time to time.

Belgians look to doctors and dieticians for help in improving their health (84 percent), as well as teachers (84), but the public authorities were cited as the second least important.

Chris Morris, the general director of Fevia, said: “A moderate approach to the problems of obesity – through advertising on food labels and giving sport vouchers – is far more effective than repressive measures like banning drinks machines in schools or putting taxes on fatty products.”

The book, which costs EUR 50, plus postal charges, can be obtained from Fevia by emailing [email protected]

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news