Jochen Mierau, affiliated with the University of Groningen, is one of nearly seventy leading scientists who in an open letter urged the government to do the right job on dementia prevention.
"Of course we already knew that if you live healthy, you will become less ill. But now we are finally crossing that general truth. Now we can also say, "OK, but what can you do about it?"
An open letter lists the numbers that can be saved by better suppression of dementia. This includes billions of euros.
And the measures are mentioned. We talk about them with Mierau, the scientific director of the Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health.
One of these measures is that GPs can offer their patients treatment for a healthier life even before they become ill. This is called combined life intervention.
It has been reimbursed since January 1, but little has been done in practice, but that really needs to change. "If your doctor tells you to exercise or eat differently, it will have more effect than if someone says it," Mierau knows.
"Previously, doctors had the option of treating only the smoker if he had suffered actual lung damage. Now they can intervene in advance and, for example, send someone to a dietitian or a physical therapist. It is good to treat unhealthy behavior in this regard. Otherwise it's unbound. "
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For example, more municipalities would have to consider sound district design in their spatial planning. More green, more practical bike trails and hiking trails. Residential areas with more people with lower education appear to be living more often along the highway or near an unhealthy air factory.
Policy makers and scientists often say that only those with higher education benefit from health campaigns. They bike, walk and eat healthier, and people in poorer neighborhoods are often unhealthy. As a result, people with lower education live shorter and suffer longer from illness.
"But we often forget that most people with low education also lead healthy lives," Mierau claims. "If we focus too much on unhealthy behavior, we forget that in those poorer areas and neighborhoods, most live healthy."
Scientists are in favor of a sugar tax in the Netherlands. Research shows that it works. The sugar tax was introduced in Philadelphia and Berkely in the United States and Catalonia, and to a lesser extent in Chile, France and Mexico. Consumption of soft drinks and sugary fruit juices seems to have dropped then.
"These sugary drinks contain a lot of sugar. If you can encourage people to drink standard water instead of sugary soft drinks, it already makes a huge contribution to reducing obesity. "