Obesity is one of the leading causes of disease and problems for children and adults. Children who are overweight grow up to be obese or morbid adults. Overweight and obesity occur when abnormal or excessive fat accumulates. The main purpose of this research is to answer the research question ‘How effective is the Dutch policy to fight obesity.’ The answer to this question was found by analyzing data found through external sources through desk research. Recent and old news articles were used accompanied by opinions from professionals and researchers.
No field work or interviews was done with this research. With these analyses, the answer to the central question was answered. The research showed that the government claims that they are actively involved in making the country healthier, while when an analysis of the data was done it showed that instead of getting healthier with the governments help, the country is getting unhealthier. This is due to the increase in fast food chains and the decrease in a healthier option.
Also, an increase in prices for the healthier option and a decrease in prices for the unhealthier option in supermarkets, school canteen and vending machines. Finally, the research showed that if the government puts more focus on the health of the community that they claim, the community will be more inclined to live a healthier lifestyle.
The world around us is getting unhealthier. This is clearly noticed around us. The population does not have a healthy lifestyle, nor does the government have the people’s best interest in mind.
The objective of this report is to determine whether the Dutch policy is effective in decreasing the obesity percentage of the population.
According to The Government of The Netherlands, many children in the Netherlands and almost half of all adults are overweight. They also state that “being overweight is the main cause of disease after smoking.” (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, 2018) Still, in the grocery stores and markets, the unhealthy products are cheaper than the healthy ones. Fast food chains also gain more money because they can provide quick and easy meals that are also cheap but unfortunately unhealthy.
The objective of this report is to determine if indeed the Dutch government is to blame for the noticeable obesity in the population. To achieve this answer a central question was conducted to get an answer to the research. The central question that was researched is:
To answer this central research question, there are sub-questions to help get to a conclusion for the research:
An analysis of the policy will be conducted, and the research based on the sub-questions there will be an answer at the end of the report for the central research question.
To answer the questions posed above, a variety of sources were studied. In this research report only, desk research was used with information already available on the topic. This paper used secondary data from academic and institutional sources retrieved through an internet search on the HHS network and information that can be found through public networks. With this general information found on the internet was also used and news articles.
There were many relevant pieces of information found that will be elaborated through the sub-questions. The qualitative sources were used to give an insight into the definition of some terms used and give different perspectives of professionals. This will help give an understanding of the problem of obesity. The quantitative sources were used to get statistics in the research an to get an overall view of numbers that give an overview of obesity in The Netherlands. By getting, numbers of statistics can analyze the percentage of children who are obese and are likely to become obese adults. An analysis of the market can help see how it affects the population. Therefore, can come with helpful solutions to better the community.
To determine the effect of obesity, there must be a clear definition of what is obese. There is a difference between being overweight and being obese. According to the World Health Organization, overweight and obesity are defined as an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. They state that “The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calorie intake and calorie burned.” (World Health Organization, 2018b) To determine if a person is overweight or obese body mass index (BMI) is used to make a calculation. (World Health Organization, 2018a) A simple index of weight-for-height is commonly used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. The calculation uses a formula to reach a result which is as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in meters (kg/m2). The greater the BMI, the greater the health risks. (Ogunbode, Fatiregun, & Ogunbode, 2009)
The World Health Organization also states that BMI provides the most useful population-level measure of overweight and obesity as it is the same for both sexes and for all ages of adults. However, it should be considered a rough guide because it may not correspond to the same degree of fatness in different individuals. (World Health Organization, 2018) They also say that age needs to be considered when defining overweight and obesity under children. The World Health Organization provides different tables on how to determine if a child is overweight or obese based on their height. There are examples of how to determine it. (Annex 1) They divide the girls and the boys to determine per gender how it affects them. The charts are led up until the children are 19 years old.
Overweight and obesity has an effect on children now, but it is also alarming for their future. Children who are currently overweight or obese most likely grow up to be morbid adults. These increasing health complications and more adults that disease in their early years. (Hamilton, Dee, & Perry, 2017) Not only when they are adults will they encounter health complications, but from a young age these children will be victims to type 2 diabetes, respiratory complications due to increased fat in the chest wall and abdomen, which reduces long volume, this will also prevent children from getting a good night sleep. and early heart problems due to the high-level production of free fatty acids. (Ogunbode, Fatiregun, & Ogunbode, 2009) These are a few of many other diseases and complications that a child, adolescents, and adults deal with when being overweight or obese.
The Netherlands claims that it takes the public health very seriously. According to the Dutch government’s food policy ‘They aim to promote healthy and responsible food and they encourage the food production industry to produce food that contains less sodium, trans fat, and sugar. (Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport, 2016) This claim is believable due to the organizations that make sure that the population is as healthy as possible. As a country, The Netherlands has different independent organizations to do research and give an overview of the government about the population. They also have special programs at schools to increase the awareness of the children of the need to eat healthier. Through fruit schemes, “healthy food canteens” and the ‘Jong Leren Eten’ pack to teach children about nutrition.
The Health Council of The Netherlands is an independent scientific advisory body for the government and parliament and they have a specific area of activity which focuses on healthy nutrition. They investigate health risk, the link between nutrition and diseases, the link between food production methods and health risks and benefits to consumers. (Health Council of the Netherlands, 2018) “A continual activity within this focus area is to check regularly whether the current nutritional standards for energy and nutrients need updating (or if an entirely new standard is needed for a particular nutrient).”
The motto of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) is “The Netherlands healthy and well.” (Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport, 2018) The Ministry of VWS claims that they strive to keep the population healthy for a long period and to heal the sick as quickly as possible. The ministry also tries to support the physically or mentally incapacitated to help them be a part of the community. They do this through the promotion of healthy lifestyles by exercises, abstaining from smoking, moderate use of alcohol, safe sex, and healthy eating.
According to Deutsche Welle (Germany’s international broadcaster), most countries in the European Union will be more obese by 2030 except for The Netherlands. The population mostly uses bicycles as a mode of transportation, this help with burning calories and staying fit. (Dillon, 2015) A regular routine of physical activity can reduce and improve the health of children and adults. But still, according to DW, The World Health Organization claims that The Netherlands is heading for an obesity crisis. Children are more likely to eat unhealthy due to that fact of easy access. In The Netherlands, there are a huge number of fast food restaurants (Annex 2) that are conveniently located where children frequent which will make them want to purchase them. In 2016 a study was done which confirmed that children to adolescents prefer fast food because “they are quick to prepare, easy access, moderately inexpensive.” (Majabadi et al., 2016) Adults settle for fast foods because of they busy and choose for the easy option of buying unhealthy food for a quick and easy meal. These unhealthy foods come in large sizes for a momentary sense of full, “Portion sizes have increased drastically in the past decade. Consuming large portions, in addition to frequent snacking on highly caloric foods, contribute to excessive caloric intake. This energy imbalance can cause weight gain, and consequently obesity.”
Another factor that contributes to overweight and obesity under children is the liquids they take in. “Sugary drinks are another factor that has been examined as a potential contributing factor to obesity. Sugary drinks are often thought of as being limited to soda, but juice and other sweetened beverages fall into this category. Many studies have examined the link between sugary drink consumption and weight and it has been continually found to be a contributing factor to being overweight.” (Sahoo et al., 2015) These are also the products that are mostly promoted in the supermarkets and other stores for adults to buy because they are cheaper.
According to De Wilde, Meeuwsen, and Middelkoop (2018) obesity in The Netherlands might have to do with the different nationalities that live in the country. “In Dutch children, overweight, obesity and severe obesity rates declined between 2007 and 2015, while overweight remained stable in Turkish, Moroccan and South Asian children.” (De Wilde, Meeuwsen, & Middelkoop, 2018) This factor may be important because The Netherlands has a very diverse community, so while some nationalities are overweight, it does not give a literal overview of the whole community. Another study claims that ‘More and more Dutch people are moderate to severely overweight. The percentage share of severely overweight (obese) people has doubled since 1995. In 1986, 28 percent of the Dutch population aged 4 years and over were overweight; this had become 43 percent 30 years later.” (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, 2017, p. 23) (Annex 3)
After thorough research of central question. There are a few recommendations for the government and other establishments that would help the health of the population. It is important that the government put more effort into making the community healthier. According to ‘Food consumption in The Netherlands and its determinants, ‘The cost of food is the second most important factor affecting food decisions, aftertaste. The current structure of food prices is that high-sugar and high-fat foods provide calories at the lowest cost. Thus, individuals and families with limited resources may select energy-dense foods high in refined grains, added sugars, and fats to save money. Fresh fruit and vegetables are more expensive on a per calorie basis than are fats and sugars.’ (Geurts, Van Bakel, Van Rossum, De Boer, & Ocké, 2017, p. 19)
Making the community healthier can be done by lowering the prices on the healthier choices of consumptions. This is better because that makes grocery shopping cheaper. This will help parents to prepare healthier food for their families. When healthier foods are consumed there will be a healthier community. The government can make supermarkets aware of the prices. By making the healthier options cheaper and the unhealthier option pricier, the population will be more inclined to buy the healthy product that the supermarket has to offer. In the schools, the canteens and vending machines can be filled with more healthy alternatives for the children. According to ‘Food consumption in the Netherlands and its determinants’, ‘international studies have related the access to processed food to higher intakes of calories, soft drinks, fat and lower intake of alternatives like fruit, vegetable, and dairy.’ (Geurts, Van Bakel, Van Rossum, De Boer, & Ocké, 2017b, p. 20)
To conclude this is the answer to the central question of the research post above. The central question asked how effective the Dutch policy is against obesity. After analyzing all the sub-questions, there can be a conclusion on the topic. Overweight and obesity are alarming health issues that are causing death in children and young adults. The Dutch policy against obesity does not currently help prevent overweight or obesity even though they are claiming they do so.
The government claims that their priority is to promote healthy food, exercise but when we analyze the amount of overweight and obese in the community does not seem like the policy is effective. In the recommendations, there are possible solutions for the government on how to improve the system to make it possible that the community will make the choice for healthier options instead of going too fast food restaurants.
Until the government decreases the number of fast food restaurants and increase the number of healthier options for the community, the number of overweight and obese children will continue to increase. Also, lower the prices of healthier options in supermarkets can also help parents buy healthier options for their children. These include all the fruit, vegetables, and other healthy snack options.