Dutch cities want to ban fast food restaurants in fight against obesity
The four large Dutch cities and Ede are advocating for legal options to ban the suppliers of fast foods and other unhealthy foods in their fight against obesity. They feel they currently have too little power to act against the unhealthy options bombarding their citizens, RTL Nieuws reports.
Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Ede therefore sent a letter to Sate Secretary Paul Blokhuis of Public Health, asking for more resources to halt the increase in fast food restaurants. They want an amendment to the Environments Act, to broaden it so that the food environment is part of the definition of a safe and healthy physical environment and can therefore be regulated.
Currently, municipalities have very few options to reduce the number of unhealthy food options in their cities, Anniek de Ruijter, associate professor at the University of Amsterdam, explained to RTL Nieuws. "Because we see food as an individual choice, ti is not possible for municipalities and governments to intervene via the Environments Act. If you walk through a public space and you are confronted with stench or nuisance from garbage, then that happened to you. You did not choose it. It is then up to the government to do something about it. Making unhealthy food choices does not happen to you, it is something you choose, is the reasoning."
"It is a politically complicated discussion," De Ruijter said. "It concerns the question of how far individual freedom goes in relation to the public task. You can also turn the question around: to what extent is obesity still an individual responsibility? Research shows that the food supply in your area influences your food choice."
The Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports told RTL Nieuws that it will work with the municipalities to see what is possible in making the food environment healthier. Part of this will be examining whether more powers are needed.