People are massively in favor of scrapping the VAT on fruit and vegetables (93 percent). Half of them plan to buy this more often if the price drops. There is also support for a sugar tax and restriction of fast food chains in schools.
This emerges from the large lifestyle survey conducted by EenVandaag among more than 34,000 people. EenVandaag presented various initiatives that the Cabinet is considering to make a healthy diet easier. According to the majority of respondents (52 percent), making healthy food cheaper helps most people to eat healthier. They think it is important that this is accessible to everyone.
Obesity and few vegetables
Many of the participants struggle with their own health. Half are light (37 percent) or very (10 percent) overweight (obese). And one in three of all participants (32 percent) say they would like to eat healthier, but indicate that it does not work in practice. In the obese group, this is two-thirds (66 percent).
Many people find it difficult to eat enough vegetables, 200 grams a day or more. Two-thirds (66 percent) do this 5 days a week or more. But a third (33 percent) only manage to do this a maximum of 4 days a week, 5 percent even almost never eat vegetables.
Unhealthy cheap, healthy too expensive
They eat very little fresh fruits and vegetables because they simply think they are too expensive. The difference in price with unhealthy food is now too great. Then the choice is quickly made, especially when people have less to spend. “Healthy food is too expensive for me. A bowl of free-range fritters costs me less than dinner with fresh vegetables and a piece of fruit,” motivates a panelist.
Another writes: “With only the expensive vegetables, you only have half a meal. The supermarkets and the government do nothing about more healthy food at reasonable prices because of a powerful lobby in the Netherlands and Europe of food producers.” Respondents also pointed out that fruits and vegetables have a limited shelf life: If you are unlucky, you are throwing away not only your bananas, but also your money.
More fruits and vegetables if cheaper
Abolition of VAT is therefore very welcome and seems to have an effect. Half of the participants (50 percent) plan to buy more fruits and vegetables if the price drops. This also applies to the group that now eats few vegetables (56 percent) and the 2,000 people with a minimum income (52 percent) who conducted the survey. For them, lack of money has a huge impact on their health.
According to some, the government should hurry with the introduction of the VAT reduction from 9 to 0 percent, which is included in the coalition agreement. In addition, they believe that the price may be lowered a bit further due to the high inflation. For, says one with a small purse: “17 øre at 2 euros is not very much. In welfare it is about prioritizing. It is not difficult with such amounts. But every little bit helps.”
A small majority is in favor of introducing a sugar tax (55 percent). The coalition agreement states that the government will tax products with sugar, such as soft drinks, harder. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. However, many people are skeptical about the implementation of the measure because many products contain sugar. “Should they tax all that, or is it done per quantity of sugar?” they wonder.
A quarter (27 percent) expect that they will buy less sugary products if the price rises by about 10 percent. The largest group of participants (47 percent) are not deterred from buying something sweet if they feel like it. Because they indulge in something tasty, or because they can not muster the discipline to cut back.
Good feeling of unhealthy food
For some, stress is an important factor in eating sweets. “When I’m very stressed, my first impulse is to grab a piece of chocolate or a tub of ice cream,” says one enthusiast. A quarter (23 percent) think they would live healthier across the board if they had less stress. This is especially true for overweight people (34 percent).
Pampering yourself and eating away stress also plays a role in eating fast food. Snacks such as a croquette sandwich or a pizza are hugely popular. Two-thirds (66 percent) are in favor of Secretary of State Van Ooijen’s plan to limit the number of fast-food chains around schools. “Kids today are way too fat, one should not tie the cat to the bacon,” someone says.
The government should not interfere in everything
A quarter (24 percent) see no point in such a fast-food measure: “It really will not work. Then they will bunker when they can reach it. It’s condescending.”
Agriculture Minister Staghouwer’s study of a meat tax is the worst of all cabinet measures. There is no majority for that.
About the research
The survey was conducted from 5 to 16 May 2022. The questions have been prepared in consultation with the Council for Public Health and Society. It incorporates some of the findings into its advice on the future of public health care.
34,587 participants from EenVandaag Opinion Panel participated in the survey. The results are weighted on the total number of respondents and are representative of six variables, namely: age, gender, education, marital status, distribution across the country and political preference measured after the election to the House of Representatives in 2021. The opinion panel consists of 70,000 members. The results will also be presented at the Great Improvement Day.