Netherlands among world's most sugar- and fat-crazed countries
The typical Dutch diet is often praised for its robustness. Healthy doses of whole wheat, meat and dairy products make up mealtime in so many households around the country.
But as a new study by Euromonitor reveals, there is a dark side to eating habits in the Netherlands. The Dutch may swear by their daily bread and cheese, but they are also seriously addicted to sugar and fat.
The world’s third worst sweet tooth
The study, which used survey data from 54 countries, found that Dutch sugar consumption is the third highest in the world, exceeded only by that of Germany, in second place, and the United States, in first.
North American and European countries dominate the rankings for consumption of both sugar and fat, with India at the bottom of both lists. Indians eat an average of only 5,1 grams of sugar and 9,9 grams of fat per day.
In contrast, residents of the Netherlands eat a whopping 102,5 grams of sugar per day on average.
This is roughly the same amount contained in three cans of cola, and just over twice the recommended daily intake of 50 grams published by the World Health Organization.
It is also around twice as much as what is consumed on average worldwide, according to the Euromonitor study.
"Robust" or "fatty"?
The Netherlands fares only slightly better on the index for fat consumption, coming in at fourth place behind Belgium, Germany and Finland, in that order.
Most dietary agencies recommend that no more than around 30 per cent of daily calories come from fat. But for the average Dutch person, daily fat intake is about 15 grams too high.
Health consequences need more research
While the Netherlands may be a leader in both sugar and fat consumption, it is not particularly fat.
In fact, obesity is less of an issue amongst the Dutch population than it is in many other countries which did not score as highly on the Euromonitor indexes.
The role sugar- and fat-rich diets play in extreme weight gain depends on a number of variables, including lifestyle habits and the form in which these nutrients are present in food.
Yet according to the Netherlands Ministry for Public Health and the Environment, a quarter of the food consumed by the Dutch population fails to qualify as "basic foodstuffs".
In other words, it is made up of highly-refined products such as alcohol, prepared sauces, soft drinks and snacks. These tend to contain high quantities of refined sugars.
Writing for Trouw, Jack Stroeken of Slow Food notes that studies like the the Euromonitor report, which draw attention to eating habits, may provide a helpful perspective on the fight against type-2 diabetes.
This disease is famously linked to high sugar consumption, and is a noted issue in the Netherlands.
Type-2 diabetes affects around 900.000 mostly adult patients nation-wide, a number which nearly doubled between 2000 and 2011.