Netherlands beats France as having best diet in the world

by Ray Clancy on January 22, 2014

A nation’s food is often one of the things that attracts an expat to a particular country and France is often considered as having the best in the world.

But now the Netherlands, mostly famous for its Gouda and Edam cheeses, can fight back after being named top for having the most plentiful, nutritious, healthy and affordable diet.

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European countries occupy the entire top 20 in a new food database compiled by global charity Oxfam

It beat France and Switzerland into second place in a new food database compiled by global charity Oxfam which examined the health and value of food in 125 countries around the world.

European countries occupy the entire top 20 except for Australia in eighth place while the US, Japan, New Zealand, Brazil and Canada are all lower down the table. The bottom three are Chad, Ethiopia and Angola and African countries occupy the bottom 30 places in the table with the exception of Laos, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India.

On affordability, the UK is among the worst performers in Western Europe, sharing 20th position with Cyprus. The price of food in the US is relatively the cheapest and most stable in the world. Angola and Zimbabwe suffer from the most volatile food prices, researchers found.

The research also found that Cambodia and Burundi have among the lowest levels of obesity and diabetes in the world, while US, Mexico, Fiji, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia score most poorly with high rates of obesity and diabetes.

Iceland, not necessarily a country known for its cuisine, scores a perfect mark for the quality of its food, in terms of nutritional diversity and safe water. However, Iceland’s obesity and diabetes levels push it down the table, to 13th spot. Similarly, unhealthy eating pushes the US down to 21st place.

‘Poverty and inequality are the real drivers of hunger. Hunger happens where governance is poor, distribution weak, when markets fail. Having sufficient healthy and affordable food is not something that much of the world enjoys,’ said Oxfam International executive director Winnie Byanyima.

‘This index lays bare the common concerns that people have with food regardless of where they come from. It reveals how the world is failing to ensure that everyone is able to eat healthily, despite there being enough to go around,’ she added.

The index was based on how affordable, available and of what quality food and dietary health is in each of the nations. It also weighed up the percentage of malnourished children, the diversity of food as well as food-related health problems like diabetes and obesity.

Oxfam looked at four main criteria: Do people have enough to eat? Can they afford to eat? Is the food of good quality? What are the results of unhealthy diets?

Oxfam concludes that the world’s food production and distribution system is in need of a major overhaul.

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