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Daily Dutch News in English

Dutch people not eating enough fruits and veggies

The Dutch do not eat enough fruit, vegetables and fish. Just one-quarter of the population meet the recommended servings by the Dutch Health Council. People with foreign backgrounds meet the standards more often than people with a Dutch background. Older people tend to eat more cauliflower, apples or herrings than young people.

These are the findings according to recent figures released by Statistics Netherlands and the Dutch National Institute of Public Health based on data collected in the 2014 Health Survey for the new Lifestyle Monitor.

A quarter of all people from the age of 4 onwards eat enough fruit according to the healthy nutrition guidelines, although women tend to eat more fruit than men (30 versus 22 percent). Children up to age eight should eat 1.5 portions of fruit a day. For everyone over the age of 9 the recommended daily dose is two pieces of fruit, such as pomegranate, apples, pears, tangerines or bananas.

Men eat as many vegetables as women
Over a quarter of the Dutch population eats enough vegetables every day. There is no difference between men and women in this regard. The recommendation for children aged 4 to 8 is to eat 100 grams of vegetables a day. For 9 to 13-year olds and people over 71 the recommended amount is 150 grams, while for 14 to 70 year-olds it is 200 grams.

The recommendation to eat fish at least twice a week, of which at least once fatty fish such as salmon, herring of mackerel, is followed by a mere 14 percent of the population.

Fruit not terribly popular with young people
Eating fruit, vegetables and fish does not seem to be very popular with young people. With three out of ten children of primary school age eating enough fruit, their intake is downright substandard. Fruit is even less popular among the 12 to 16 year-olds, as just 14 percent turn out to meet the recommended dose. Fruit consumption increases again when people grow older: 45 percent of people over 75 year-olds eat enough fruit.

A similar age pattern was found for vegetable consumption. Just three out of ten 4 to 12 year-olds eat enough vegetables every day while two out of ten 16 to 20 year-olds meet the daily recommended doses. Over four out of ten 75 year-olds eat enough vegetables.

The percentage of people who eat enough fish also has an age component. Barely 6 percent of the 12 to 16 year-olds meet the recommended dose whereas 23 percent of the people aged between 65 and 75 eat fish twice a week with at least one meal including fatty fish.

Vegetables and fish more popular among highly educated people
The are few differences in the recommended fruit consumption between highly and less well-educated people in the Netherlands. However, highly educated people meet the fish and vegetable recommendations more often than less well-educated people. And the gap is widening.