Fitness craze in the Netherlands

Utrecht, NETHERLANDS – It is that time of the year again. The cold days are over and everyone is starting to worry about the few extra pounds they’ve gained over the winter. Some people hit the gyms in masses. Others go on crash diets to get ready for summer. Is this an event that occurs every year or are we slowly changing our lifestyles?

Sugar in different types of food. photo credit: dailymail.co.uk

Sugar in different types of food. photo credit: dailymail.co.uk

In the Netherlands, there have been many current developments concerning food and health, especially an increase in the number and popularity of food blogs and cookbooks. Lately, Dutch people have been showing keen interest in books and articles discussing the impact of sugar on the human health. One student at the University of Utrecht, who just finished reading a book about the matter, told Global Young Voices: “I never knew that so much of the food we consume contains added sugar.”

Nutrition labels and logos are marked on supermarket products to make it easier for customers to opt for healthier food. Products bearing the “Choices” logo for example meet various requirements, such as lower sugar, saturated fat, and salt contents, which helps people decide on their desired snacks.

According to the World Health Organization, the number of overweight Europeans will increase by 2030. The one exception to this rule is the Netherlands. Research shows that 54 percent of Dutch men were overweight in 2010 and that this percentage is going to drop to less than half in 2030. Likewise, the percentage of women that are currently obese will decrease from 13 percent to 9 percent. This is good news for the Netherlands, but no so for the rest of Europe.

Organizations like the European Food Information Council are concerned with food safety and quality. The impact of healthy eating policy interventions needs to be systematically evaluated in order to establish what works and what doesn’t. The EATWELL project (Interventions to Promote Healthy Eating Habits: Evaluation and Recommendations) aims to identify the successes, failures and uncertainties of such campaigns.

PHOTO CREDIT: HEALTHYLIFETOOLKIT.COM

PHOTO CREDIT: HEALTHYLIFETOOLKIT.COM

A recent graduate told Global Young Voices: “When I was a student, I didn’t think twice about eating last night’s leftover pizza for breakfast the next morning. But when you have a full-time job it just doesn’t feel right anymore. I consulted a health coach to get more information about healthy eating and I have so much more energy now.”

Nearly all Dutch people agree that the increasing awareness on the importance of healthy eating has a positive impact on their weight and health.

cartoon credit: June Caldwell/WordPress