’Voedingleeft’

Een nieuwe kijk op voeding. (English: A new view on nutrition)

Monday 8 June 2015, by henri.cattelain, Lisa in ’t Zand, Naomi Molenkamp

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

‘Voedingleeft’ (foodlives in English) is an independent Dutch foundation and network organisation of professionals who follow up on the latest activities surrounding the science of health and lifestyle. The professionals working for this foundation include doctors, scientists, dietists, cooks, but also journalists and communication specialists. The foundation is an independent platform with the goal to make people aware of the effects of food on health. They want to inspire and activate professionals and consumers on great scale. Health issues and complaints are part of our daily life and they have increased over the years. The mission of this foundation is to improve the quality of life through a more tasteful and conscious lifestyle. They believe that better nutrition prevents most of the health complaints, which will be beneficial for the health care system, the economic productivity and the social security system.

The main activities of the foundation evolve around developing lifestyle programs and educating health care professionals about a new view on nutrition. In these programs the main focus is on reducing the usage of medication for normal living processes. The foundation also focuses on the facilitation of self-care where people are educated with regards to their nutrition pattern, which can help prevent diseases such as diabetes 2. Turnaroundiabetes2 is one of their projects where the foundation claims that this type of disease can be turned around in 80% of the cases. According to the foundation this disease can be turned around by less or even no medication. People have to structurally adjust their nutrition and life style; not eat less but add more variety, which will make you feel better and this will also increase the incentive to exercise. Another activity was set up right after the establishment of the foundation in 2011 and is called ‘the food challenge’. It is a program designed through an App and website where people can experience the effect of 10 days without drinking coffee and eating sugar on their vitality. 4 years later this program is an online and offline eat and discovery program of 8 weeks where the focus is on organisations who offer this to their employees with the goal of making their workers feel more energetic and thus more productive. An example is an adjusted assortment of food in the company’s canteen. A same kind of program is established in primary schools, which teaches children from a young age the importance of food and its relation to vitality. Furthermore the foundation organizes congresses where research on new areas in the food sector are presented and explained.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

The ethical challenge this company is addressing is with regards to the food industry. On the one hand we might argue that it is our own decision what we put in our mouths. We all know that candies contain a lot of sugar and no vitamins, which is bad for your health. However we don’t believe that everyone knows that apple juice or orange juice, which sounds healthy, contains actually a great amount of sugar (4 sugar cubes per glass). So on the other hand we can argue that it is the responsibility of companies or governments to educate people more and change or regulate the sugar content of products in order for people to live a healthier life. Robert Lustig advocates this argument as he claims that in order for us to be responsible we should have knowledge to exercise personal responsibility. An example of this lack of knowledge is that companies have 56 different names for sugar, which confuses people. In addition access is necessary (convenient stores with highly added sugary products do not support access) and your choice can’t hurt another person. Hereby he compares the tobacco and alcohol industry with the soda industry where he points out that tobacco and alcohol usage are regulated as it hurts society, however this is not the case for sodas. He also points out the report ‘the toxic truth about sugar’ that claims that sugar is the most addictive and dangerous drug at all times. From this point of view we can compare sugar with tobacco and alcohol where its ethical challenge is the same; its negative effect on health. The question of responsibility remains unanswered since the government, companies and people all play a role and thus they can all do their part. A great example comes from Mars who publically made a statement that they support the recommendation of the world leading health organizations to reduce the intake of added sugars to no more than 10% of total calories and help to achieve this goal. Organizations or foundations such as Voedingleeft are also very important in addressing the issue of sugar and the importance of nutrition. They provide more reliable and deeper knowledge on the effects of sugar and certain types of food. This makes people more aware, which helps them to make smarter decisions with regard to their lifestyle.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

The company focuses on informing people about the effects of nutrition on health, including the threats of certain substances of which people did not know it would have that bad consequences on your health. Moreover, the company is set up with the aim of improving people’s health and therefore, their lifestyle, and to make them aware of the so called ‘hidden’ dangers in everyday life. Thus, we believe this company really is ethical, since this was its intention already in the first place, making it one of their core businesses. Additionally, they are delivering not really a physical product, they mainly give briefings to inform people and business on health issues, and set up projects. This implies that there is not a real supply chain involved before them, meaning that their vision will be followed during the whole process. The intentions of the company are pure in the sense that the people who work in the company and created it, all have passion for nutrition, and really want to achieve a healthier society.

The main reason why we trust this company is that they are a non-profit organisation. The money they get to organise their briefings and to set up their projects, is mainly from gifts. They also want to make sure the gifts come from various smaller parties or companies, since they acknowledge there could otherwise be one big party exercising control over their ways of doing, so that they stay with their core purpose. All this in order to stay independent. These aspects make us trust the company, in that their intentions are real, and they are not doing what they do to make money, but really to improve the lifestyle of society.

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

The goal of the foundation is to raise the awareness about the danger of our current diets in the hope of changing the food consumption behaviour of the population. However, ‘Voedingleeft’ will face some challenges before reaching this goal.
First it might be difficult to raise awareness; many scientific research is still unknown and undeveloped. For example few people know the real addictive effect of sugar or that there exist 56 different names for sugar. Therefore, even informed people might eat sugar unwittingly. Secondly, it will be difficult to convince the government of the danger of some food substances and ask for regulation. Especially since companies such as Coca Cola and other companies delivering ‘non-healthy’ food or beverages are enormous players in the market and have lots of power. Thirdly, the accuracy and the number of scientific studies might not be convincing enough to really tackle these companies. For example, we still don’t know if Aspartame (a sugar substitute used in many foods and beverages) is healthier than sugar or not.

To be more convincing and to have more impact on the society, ‘Voedingleeft’ could improve itself in different ways. The foundation could spread its reach. The foundation is only operating in the Netherlands, and is not well known. ‘Voedingleeft’ could try to first be more well-know in its home country, and then spread across different countries. Finally, the foundation could be more active in their way to convince people. For the moment, ‘Voedingleeft’ is mainly informing the population by presenting different researches with evidences. However, informing people might not be enough to change their behaviour concerning sugar consumption.

Bibliography

http://www.voedingleeft.nl/ May 28

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7lN0j3ANr4 June 2

Location: Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

Sector: Human health and social work activities

Official website: http://www.voedingleeft.nl

Key figures:

No. of employees: less than 30
Countries of operations: The Netherlands

Nbr. visits: 473