Food and nutrition are an important part of our lifestyle. In conjunction with smoking and overweight/obesity, dietary habits are responsible for the majority of health loss and socio-economic health differences in the Netherlands. A major improvement in public health could be achieved by developing healthier dietary habits and a healthier body weight. Healthier dietary habits decrease the risk of premature death, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
In a healthy diet, we do not eat too much nor too little, and we eat mostly vegetable products and fewer animal products. A healthy meal is rich in vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, fish, wholemeal products, contains sufficient low-fat dairy products, and is low in red meat and processed meat products, alcoholic beverages and sugary drinks, salt, and saturated fats (Health Council of the Netherlands: Dutch Dietary Guidelines 2015; the Netherlands Nutrition Centre: Wheel of Five).
Based on the National Food Consumption Survey, RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment is investigating the extent to which people in the Netherlands eat according to the dietary guidelines and dietary reference values, and what differences there are in subgroups within society. RIVM is also investigating the relationship between food consumption and health, using data from the Doetinchem cohort study and elsewhere. In addition, RIVM is exploring options to make food products and food consumption even healthier. This applies to measures aimed at behaviour (knowledge, skills, etc.) and at the surrounding context (product composition, availability, price, etc.). RIVM operates at a national and international level in this context.
RIVM Centre for Healthy Living supports professionals working at companies, schools and childcare centres in developing an integrated approach to healthy food.
RIVM is involved in multiple research projects, such as the Horizon2020 PROMISS project, which aims to better understand and prevent malnutrition in older people, thus promoting active and healthy ageing.