Politicians propose minimum age to purchase fast food
The CDA's scientific institute proposed banning young children, and possibly also students, from buying fast food if the restaurants don't make their menus healthier. According to the think tank, a minimum age for buying fast food is a good "big stick" to pressure restaurants to offer more nutritious food, Trouw reports.
The think tank compared fast food with tobacco and alcohol. The government imposed age limits on these parts of an unhealthy lifestyle. "Unhealthy eating now causes more damage than smoking," the think tank said in a report to the coalition party. The CDA has been reluctant to allow government intervention in unhealthy lifestyles in the past. But according to the think tank, the damage caused by unhealthy food is so significant that limits have to be set.
"It is mopping with the tap open as long as the social causes for an unhealthy lifestyle are not forcefully reduced," CDA care expert Gerard Adelaar said in the report. There is so much cheap, unhealthy food on offer that a free choice to eat healthily does not really exist, the think tank said.
In addition to a minimum age for fast food, the think tank also proposed that the government set requirements on the amounts of sugar, saturated fat, salt, processed meat, and portion size for fast food restaurants. Municipalities should also get more options to limit the number of fast food restaurants. And the government should look into offering free healthy lunches at schools and subsidizing fruit and vegetables.
State Secretary Maarten van Ooijen of Public Health is already looking into blocking fast-food chains from opening in certain areas, like near schools.