Dutch government campaign for healthier eating

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The health minister wants to stimulate Dutch consumers to eat more healthy food such as vegetables, fruit and fish.

7 July 2008

THE NETHERLANDS - Health Minister Ab Klink is introducing new plans to reduce the number of deaths caused by heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

He says an estimated 140,000 lives could be saved in the coming 20 years and the cost of health care to the nation could be reduced by EUR 4.1 billion a year if people would eat more healthy food.

The government wants to stimulate Dutch consumers to eat more vegetables, fruit and fish.

The consumption of fruit and vegetables needs to be increased to 200 grams a day and people should eat fish twice a week rather than three times a month, the current average.

Minister Klink says people will live longer if they follow these guidelines. He hopes that if they do, the Netherlands will regain its position as one of the top five countries in the world for life expectancy.

The Netherlands has slipped out of the top five in recent years.

The cabinet will be holding talks with food producers, retailers and welfare groups to prepare a national campaign.

The minister ruled out any radical measures at present, such as extra tax on fatty foods. He said the government should be cautious but should still investigate options of this kind. However, he did say the government would like the food industry to reduce salt levels in its products.  

The consumer organisation De Consumentenbond has expressed disappointment with the minister's plans.

It has been campaigning for a clearer system of food labelling, replacing the existing "forest" of confusing labels and certificates with a simple colour code for healthy and less healthy products.

[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]

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