More attention needed for food in health care

Published on
September 10, 2010

‘Food should be assigned a more prominent position in healthcare’, according to Mr. Huijts, Director General of Public Health at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.

Huijts was just one of the speakers at the Social Café on ‘Healthy eating in the healthcare system – who will take charge?’ The newspapers have focussed a lot of attention on obesity recently, while malnutrition during illness also forms a huge problem. All the speakers agreed that it is time for organisations to start working together to boost the role of food and nutrition in healthcare.

The debate about healthy eating as part of healthcare attracted unprecedented attention. Medical specialists, GPs, nutritionists, and representatives from hospices, hospitals, home-care organisations, government bodies, branch organisations and healthcare insurance companies all attended this meeting in Gelderse Vallei Hospital. Thanks to the debate, the Gelderse Vallei Food & Nutrition Alliance has put the role of nutrition in healthcare firmly on the agenda.

Food: cornerstone of the treatment

Mr. Leerink, member of the Executive Board of Menzis [healthcare insurer], emphasised the value of health as a commodity. Commodities are treated with respect in the energy sector, and we should be doing the same in the healthcare sector: ‘We need an Al Gore for healthcare’. Patients must be required to follow instructions. And insurance companies must stimulate people to improve their health, using nutrition as an important instrument, according to Mr. Leerink. ‘Illness is the same as top-class sport in this respect; nutrition is essential to both’, added Mr. Witteman, Gastroenterologist at Gelderse Vallei Hospital. ‘Food is the cornerstone of the treatment. It has a positive effect on aspects such as the length of hospital admission and overall quality of life’.

Gelderland as the healthiest province?

Ms. van Haaren, member of the Gelderland Provincial Authorities, stressed the fact that Gelderland is a healthy, green region and home to both Health Valley and Food Valley. The province also boasts the most kilometres of bike lanes in the country. Gelderland wants to become the healthiest province in the Netherlands. The Gelderse Vallei Food & Nutrition Alliance is contributing to the cause by stimulating clinical scientific food research and collaboration between professionals from both within and outside the healthcare sector and spreading knowledge about transmural nutritional care.

Gelderse Vallei Food & Nutrition Alliance

The debate was organised by the Gelderse Vallei Food & Nutrition Alliance and Schuttelaar & Partners. The Gelderse Vallei Food & Nutrition Alliance is a partnership between Gelderse Vallei Hospital and the Division of Human Nutrition at Wageningen University.