The Council for Public Health & Society (RVS) advised the Dutch government to take more serious steps towards reducing health inequalities and promoting healthy eating. This can be done by making fruit and vegetables cheaper, introducing higher taxes on sugary products and ensuring that municipalities can limit the number of snack bars, the organization said in a report published Wednesday.
They argue that the health disadvantages of certain groups of the population are directly related to social problems they experience, and can shave up to seven years off a person’s life. Factors such as unemployment, low income, debt, unhealthy living environment and a lack of social contacts play an important role. When combined, it can cost someone the equivalent of 15 years in good health.
According to RVS, there is a great need for independent legislation in relation to healthy eating, so that every citizen is given ”a fair chance for a healthy life.” Additionally, a large investment of at least 1.7 billion euro is needed in order for health inequalities to be reduced. It also proposed reducing taxes on fresh produce, and restricting the advertising of food products considered unhealthy.
With their recommendations, RVS focuses on national parties that create the conditions for local and regional programs aimed at reducing health inequalities. These include the government, parliament and the departments, but also national organizations such as the RIVM, the National Health Care Institute as well as health insurance companies.
According to their research, strong cooperation is also needed with national institutions and organizations from fields other than healthcare, such as education and social security.
Last week, Consumers’ association Consumentenbond already urged the future cabinet to do more in addressing the issue of food producers adding too much salt, sugar, and saturated fat to their foods.