Fancy a hamburger? Dutch municipalities don’t think so

The municipalities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, and Ede have proposed a new strategy in the fight against obesity: they want a legal avenue to ban suppliers of unhealthy food.

In order to promote a healthier living environment, the four large municipalities (plus Ede?) want more options to prevent the supply of unhealthy food, RTL Nieuws reports.

Earlier this year, city council members from these municipalities wrote to the State Secretary asking for more resources to curb the supply of unhealthy food. How exactly do they want to do this though? Well, they want to see an amendment to the Environment Act or the Commodities Act.  

More fast food than ever before?

The number of fast-food outlets (think the usual culprits McDonald’s, KFC, and Burger King) has increased in recent years. There are now 470 such locations in this little corner of the world. 🍔

In true Dutch fashion, there are also way more snack bars popping up on street corners. So if you fancy walking across the road to grab some warm bitterballen on a cold winter’s night, that’s no problem at all — there are on average 7.2 snack bars per kilometre in the Netherlands. 😱

READ MORE: Snackbars in the Netherlands: the ultimate guide

Can the government really regulate this?

No one forces you to have a hamburger though, so what can the government do about this?

Anniek de Ruijter, associate professor at the UvA, tells RTL Nieuws that “because we see food as an individual choice, it is not possible for municipalities and governments to intervene via the Environment Act.”

The municipalities have other ideas though and are trying to broaden the interpretation of the Environment Act so that the food environment comes to be considered as part of a healthy and safe physical environment. Goodbye McDonald’s, hello fruity snacks. 🙅‍♀️ 🍊

What are your thoughts on this debate? Does the government have a duty to look after us, or is this infringing on our freedom of choice? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: radub85/Depositphotos

Jen Lorimer 🇿🇼
Jen Lorimer 🇿🇼
An avid tea drinker, Jen was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She moved to Utrecht in 2017 to pursue her history degree. She loves people-watching, canoeing the Utrecht canals, and observing how the Dutch come alive in summer. Having been traumatised by a Dutch circle party, Jen wants to help equip other internationals with tips and tricks to survive and thrive in this wonderful flat country.


  1. Even Chairman Mao and Che Guevara (proportionately the two greatest mass killers in history) weren’t this draconian! I don’t eat meat. Clearly I’m not in the majority. But if people want to eat meat or even if they want to drink glasses of pig grease, it is their choice to make not mine and certainly not that of Dutch governments.

  2. It was a very rare thing when you’d see morbidly obese children and adults in Europe. Since the arrival of McDonalds and all the other junk food franchises that has changed drastically. When I lived in NL and would fly to the US the first thing we would notice when getting off the plane and walking around US airports was the number of obese people. It was shocking and disturbing. These places need to be closed down! Disgusting junk food, not good for anyone!


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