Amsterdam could block new snack bars near schools in healthy eating drive
Amsterdam lawmaker Simone Kukenheim signed an initiative on Saturday that could limit the creation of new fast food outlets. The initiative is part of the new City Deal, an agenda to strengthen the growth, innovation, and quality of life in Dutch cities, according to Parool. It includes a collection of proposals to create a “healthy and sustainable food environment.”
The agenda is working towards an increasingly plant-based diet in Amsterdam. Their goal is that at least half of residents will embrace a plant-based diet by 2030, increasing to 60 percent in 2040.
The initiative was introduced in response to concerns about the rising rates of people who are overweight and obese in the country. Half of all adults in the Netherlands, and one in eight children, were considered overweight in 2018. Studies project that if the current rates continue, 62 percent of adults will be overweight in 2040. Being overweight can lead to many health issues, especially for children. Just in Amsterdam, about 20 percent of children aged 11 and under are considered overweight.
One way the initiative aims to combat this is by shunning snack bars in favor of healthier options around schools and public buildings, but also in some struggling neighborhoods. “To prevent children from walking to the snack bar after or during school, there must be an environment supporting healthy foods. That also means no more fast food sales at schools,” Kukenheim said.
The municipality currently has no options to make structural changes” that can address the fact that 84 percent of catering businesses have a menu considered to be unhealthy, she said. The city can’t do it alone, and need other parties to also step up and help. “We are doing that with this City Deal.”
Kukenheim stated that part of the City Deal is to investigate and establish what legal means are possible to prevent the issuance of new licenses to operate certain types of catering businesses, like snack bars. Utrecht, Rotterdam, Almere, and Ede already pledged the City Deal initiative to promote healthy food environments.