Food we cannot survive without it. It is a primary life requirement for us all. But food is more than that. Food also plays an important role in terms of our health. An optimal diet helps to maintain good health. In the Netherlands, an unhealthy dietary pattern is responsible for a large proportion of the ill-health and deaths due to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer.
An increasing number of Dutch people are overweight. This is due to eating too much, particularly fat-rich foods, and to insufficient physical activity. The increase in the number of children with overweight is alarming. We must halt this trend by encouraging people to adopt a healthier diet and to be more physically active. The consumption of enough fruit, vegetables and fish is good for the heart and blood vessels.
The quantity of food consumed is also important, and should be in line with the daily amount of physical activity. In short, eating healthily and in moderation is good for your health. Needless to say, our food must also be safe. Much has been done in past centuries to ensure that this is the case. Production techniques have been greatly improved, the quality of our food is continually monitored, and control systems have been introduced.
In the Netherlands, responsibility for food safety is shared by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. Although much has been achieved in terms of food safety, we must not rest on our laurels. New developments and emerging threats must be addressed. New products are being introduced all the time, such as food with health-promoting additions and genetically modified foods.
Ministry of health
Their safety must also be assured. This report, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, considers the various health-related aspects of diet and nutrition. It offers an overview of current knowledge concerning the effects of diet and foods upon health. It not only provides information about past trends and the current situation, but also considers future developments with regard to the nutritional value and safety of our food.
The report has been written in such a way as to make it useful to both scientists and policy-makers. It will undoubtedly make a substantial contribution to the production and consumption of healthy, safe food.