The Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has suggested Dutch citizens should eat less meat and more vegetables to reduce the number of “chronic disease” patients.
While RIVM is an independent agency of the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, its results are often used to inform government policy on health and nutrition. It also stressed the government needed to play an “active role” with the meat industry to promote public health.
When published on 24 January, the report sparked a debate in the Netherlands about whether there needed to be a tax on meat, despite RIVM’s paper making no such suggestion.
With the Netherlands set to hold a general election on 15 March 2017, a COV spokesman told this site a meat tax idea had been floated by a number of different parties in the run-up to the election.
“There have been many suggestions that a tax on meat might be needed to solve a few problems, but this is politics – it’s not our business,” the spokesperson told this site.
“With regards to the Dutch consumer behaviour, it is not so bad. We don’t have a large problem with overweight people [although] it is growing. The Dutch are relatively healthy in their behaviour and aware of their meat consumption. Not all, but the average consumer behaviour is not so bad.
“We do not believe a tax on meat will help improve people’s health – we want to see more information campaigns recommending a healthy lifestyle,” the spokesperson added.
RIVM’s report suggested that around half of Dutch citizens are overweight. Erasmus MC, a hospital in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, is reportedly building XL (extra large) rooms, as the population gets fatter. RIVM claimed the increase in obesity rates was driven by people in low socioeconomic groups, with nine in 10 not eating enough vegetables.
Findings also suggested 30% of the food consumed in the Netherlands was of animal origin. RIVM claimed this produced greenhouse gas emissions “similar to that of transport”.
The research paper did not recommend an amount that meat consumption should be reduced by.
RIVM was not available for comment at the time of writing.