The city is successfully fighting fat by promoting tap water in its schools, along with healthy cooking classes and a ban on fast food sponsorship
The city of Amsterdam is leading the world in ending the obesity epidemic, thanks to a radical and wide-reaching programme which is getting results even among the poorest communities that are hardest to reach.
Better known for tulips and bicycles, Amsterdam has the highest rate of obesity in the Netherlands, with a fifth of its children overweight and at risk of future health problems.
The programme appears to be succeeding by hitting multiple targets at the same time from promoting tap water to after-school activities to the city refusing sponsorship to events that take money from Coca Cola or McDonalds.
It is led by a dynamic deputy mayor with the unanimous backing of the citys politicians. From 2012 to 2015, the number of overweight and obese children has dropped by 12%. Even more impressive, Amsterdam has done what nobody else has managed, because the biggest fall has been amongst the lowest socio-economic groups.
It is in neighbourhoods like the Bijlmer in the south-east that the programme is changing lives. The Bijlmer is notorious, says Wilbert Sawat, coordinator and PE teacher at De Achtsprong primary school, and thats why he wanted to work there. Other teachers do too, he says. Here we can make a difference.
The school is in the middle of a high-rise housing estate that was experimental in the 1960s, with raised roads so people would be free to walk and cycle on the ground level. But the cycle parks are empty. In 1975, when the Dutch colony of Suriname in south America became independent, many migrated to Amsterdam and moved into the cheap flats. Cycling was not part of their culture.
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