The three priorities of the agreement have ambitious targets for improving public health by 2040: the package of measures to prevent obesity includes: more pipes in public sectors, Prohibition of the sale of sugary sodas in schools, the “schijf van vijf” campaign, Dutch dietary guidelines, further reduction of sugar content in soft drinks, healthier foods in canteens and restaurants, the intensification of the “Young Healthy Weights” programme and support for lifestyle health organisations. The goal is to reduce the expected increase in obesity from more than 60% in 2040 to a decrease of less than 40%. This is a great ambition because it means returning to overweight levels in the early 1990s. RIVM estimates that the package will result in a limited reduction in the increase in obesity. Further action is needed to achieve this goal. Statistics Netherlands Health Survey/Lifestyle Monitor 2018 was created in collaboration with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the Trimbos Institute. This survey should see where we stand to achieve those objectives set out in the agreement. Despite the criticism of the content of the agreement, the current government has clearly chosen a different path from that of the former Minister of Health, who has been very reluctant to expand the government`s role in preventing so-called “lifestyle” diseases. In her 2011 political letter (VWS, 2011), she argued that healthy lifestyles had for too long been seen as a responsibility of experts and the government, focusing on what the individual should (not) and leaving too little responsibility to the individual.
Responsibility for healthy behaviour should be returned to where it should be, that is, to each individual for himself. This idea is, of course, clearly part of a liberal discourse that rejects paternalism. For Liberals and many others, the vice of guardianship is not only that it involves restrictions on freedom; The guardianship of the state is particularly shocking in that it is a matter of taking responsibility for a person`s well-being, rather than allowing that person to be responsible for his or her own life. It would be like treating that person as a child who cannot take care of himself and see the state as a parent (or worse, a nanny) who assumes the responsibility that a child citizen lacks. On the other hand, respect for a competent person, capable of choosing independently, would be tantamount to emphasizing his own individual responsibility for health, thereby reducing the scope of state responsibility. (Of course, there is much more to say about guardianship in public health (Nys, 2008; Wilson, 2011).) At the end of 2018, the Dutch government, in collaboration with local governments and 70 other social partners, public and private representatives, signed a national prevention agreement for non-profit and non-profit organisations (VWS, 2018). The National Prevention Agreement focuses on three common issues concerning noncommunicable diseases: the prevention of overweight and obesity, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Ambitions are high: the partners of the agreement commit to leaving no more young people in 2040; that the prevalence of obesity in people over the age of 20 will have fallen from 50 to 38%; and that no more than 5% of adults drink too much alcohol. Measures include smoking-free classes, a ban on the sale of sugary drinks and healthier meals in corporate restaurants, school canteens, and the creation of more attractive parks and public spaces.