By Bonnie Klap
Given the multitude of problematic issues that plague our modern-day society, it is perhaps easy to overlook a problem that stealthily creeps up on ( too) many of us. The Dutch Government ,however, is acutely aware of it and its health, financial and societal consequences. Hence it regularly attempts to increase public awareness for this problem. So far with limited success.
I am referring to the ubiquitous and growing problem of obesity. An issue that, incidentally, is by no means exclusive to The Netherlands. It is unfortunately going global. Why cover this topic in the January issue of the Diplomat Magazine? There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the month of January is traditionally the time that people make New Years’ resolutions. Time and again the resolutions ‘losing weight and getting fit’ rank number 1 in the list of New Year’s resolutions, closely followed by ‘quitting smoking.’
The second reason is that, due to the very nature of their jobs, Diplomats have a busy social calendar, which comes with the unavoidable and numerous lunches, dinners and receptions. At each and every event they are confronted with irresistible snacks and excellent wines. Then there are the exquisite dinnerparties prepared by the private chefs. Self control goes only so far. Nonetheless, the numbers are sobering: In 2012 53% of men and 44% of women were considered to be overweight in The Netherlands and during the last 30 years the number of overweight adults has increased by a worrisome 50%. As already mentioned, the problem of overweight people is by no means confined to The Netherlands.
According to the WHO worldwide there are 1,6 billion overweight people and 400 million people, who qualify as ‘clinically obese.’ Should this trend continue, we will be looking at a staggering 2,3 billion overweight people and700 million obese people as early as 2015. I have decided to mention these numbers, not to scare you or spoil your New Year’s mood, but simply to show you that the problem is real. Should you be worried? Only you can answer that question, but allow me to make a humble suggestion. For almost everybody, and certainly no less for the Diplomatic Community, it might be a good idea to take up some form of exercise on a regular basis. Join a gym or go jogging a few times a week. Will this be your New Year’s resolution for 2014?