Half of all Dutch people are overweight. To fight this, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and other parties have signed the National Prevention Agreement. Part of the agreement is to make it easier for people to choose healthy foods. One way to achieve this is to make food products healthier. Another is to introduce a food choice logo. RIVM helps with this in several ways. We manage information in databases and help design new methods. We also look at trends in changes to food products.
National Approach to Product Improvement
The National Approach to Product Improvement (NAPV) will help food producers improve the composition of their processed food products, one step at a time. They can do this by lowering the amounts of salt, sugar and saturated fat in a product. Another option is to increase the amount of fibre. The National Approach to Product Improvement follows the National Agreement to Improve Product Composition ('Akkoord Verbetering Productsamenstelling in Dutch'). The goal is to make improvements sooner. Producers must also make improvements to other products. Over the next few years, RIVM will be monitoring changes in food composition with a view to ascertaining whether the targets are being met.
The Netherlands wants to start using the Nutri-Score food choice logo. A food choice logo can make it easier for people to choose healthy foods. That means it can also help lower the number of people who are overweight. This is one of the goals of the National Prevention Agreement. A food choice logo can also motivate producers to make their food products healthier. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has asked RIVM to investigate how the Nutri-Score system can be matched as closely as possible to the Dutch dietary guidelines.
Dutch Food Composition Database
The Dutch Food Composition Database ('Nederlands Voedingsstoffenbestand' or NEVO) contains information about the composition of food products that are used regularly in the Netherlands or are important to specific demographics. The database contains information about energy and nutrients, such as proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. The NEVO Online website provides information on the calorie count and 136 nutrients in 2,389 foods. In addition, RIVM also manages the Dutch Supplements Database ('Nederlandse Supplementendatabank' or NES), a complementary database on the composition of food supplements.
RIVM is exploring what is needed in the Netherlands to achieve dietary habits that are both environmentally friendly and healthy. To that end, we are compiling and connecting data about food consumption and environmental impact. For instance, RIVM is working on a database that can indicate the environmental footprint of producing one kilogram of a food product.