Dutch government told to introduce sugar tax and increase cost of alcohol
An advisory report published by the Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) states that, in order to reduce national healthcare costs in the future, more must be done to improve the overall health of people in the Netherlands - for example, introduce a sugar tax and raise alcohol prices in order to encourage a healthier lifestyle.
Preventative policies to reduce future healthcare costs
According to the WRR report, the number of people working in the healthcare sector will double by 2060, with current trends showing that in 40 years’ time, healthcare expenditure will amount to a whopping 16.000 euros per member of the population. In order to try and limit this growth and the rising cost of managing the Dutch healthcare system, the WRR advises that certain policies are introduced sooner rather than later to encourage healthy living.
Instead of turning to high-tech solutions, the WRR argues in favour of “removing the taboo” about preventative policies. The report encourages the introduction of a sugar tax, the reduction of salt content in foods, a cap for the number of shops with an alcohol permit, or the implementation of a minimum price for alcoholic beverages.
Plans to encourage healthy living in the Netherlands
“There is still much to be gained, especially in the prevention of diseases: it costs little and it yields a lot,” says Gijsbert Werner from the WRR. His colleague Marianne de Visser agrees that something must be done - and soon. “We are sounding the alarm,” De Visser says, “politics must act now, the problems are already there.”
The Dutch government has already taken steps in an attempt to encourage healthy drinking and reduce alcohol consumption, particularly amongst young people. As of July 1, 2021, the government introduced a cap for discounts on alcohol at supermarkets, bringing an end to the days of “buy one get one free.” The Council for Health and Society has also advocated for the introduction of a national sugar tax, and called on the government to reduce the VAT on fruit and vegetables.