Number of adult smokers down in 2020

© Hollandse Hoogte / EyeEm GmbH
In 2020, 20 percent of the Dutch adult population indicated they smoked occasionally. This was still nearly 22 percent in the previous year. Seven percent of the over-18s were excessive drinkers, a slight decrease relative to 2019. The share of heavy drinkers remained unchanged, as did the share of overweight and obese adults. This is evident from the 2020 National Health Survey/Lifestyle Monitor, which Statistics Netherlands (CBS) conducted in collaboration with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction (Trimbos Institute).

In 2020, smoking, excessive drinking and obesity rates were still far above the targets for 2040 that are part of the National Prevention Agreement. With this agreement, the Dutch government - together with more than 70 organisations in the Netherlands - aims to reduce smoking and problematic alcohol consumption among adults to 5 percent by the year 2040. Overweight should be reduced to 38 percent and obesity to 7.1 percent of the over-18s. Among young people under 18, the Prevention Agreement aims to reduce overweight to 9.1 percent and obesity to 2.3 percent.

1 in 5 adults are smokers

Twenty percent of adults indicated they had smoked in 2020; a slight decrease relative to the previous year. Fifteen percent reported they were daily smokers, just as in 2019. 46 percent of adults indicated they had never smoked, while 34 percent said they used to smoke. This did not change compared to 2019.

JaarSmokers (% of persons aged 18 yrs and over)Daily smokers (% of persons aged 18 yrs and over)
Target for 20405
Source: CBS, RIVM, Trimbos Institute

Fewer passive smokers

If someone does not smoke, but does inhale the tobacco smoke of another person, this is called passive smoking. The share of non-smokers aged 18 years and over who indicated they were never or almost never exposed to passive smoking rose from 75 percent in 2019 to 79 percent in 2020. The share of non-smokers who were exposed to secondhand smoke (but not every day) fell from 20 percent in 2019 to 16 percent in 2020.

Passive smoking among non-smokers
Meeroken(Almost) never (% of persons aged 18 yrs and over)Not daily (% of persons aged 18 yrs and over)Daily, less than one hour (% of persons aged 18 yrs and over)Daily, one hour or more (% of persons aged 18 yrs and over)
Source: CBS, RIVM, Trimbos Institute

Proportion of excessive drinkers down in 2020

Last year, 7 percent of the adult population were excessive drinkers. This share is slightly lower than in 2019 (8.5 percent). Eight percent were heavy drinkers, similar to 2019. Excessive drinkers consume more than 21 (for men) or 14 (for women) alcohol units per week. Heavy drinkers consume 6 or more (for men) or 4 or more (for women) alcohol units in one day at least once weekly.

In 2020, 44 percent of adults complied with the alcohol guidelines of the Netherlands’ Health Council (not drinking at all, or not drinking more than one unit per day). This was still 41.5 percent in 2019. Last year, 78 percent of all over-18s reported they had consumed alcohol in the previous twelve months, down from 79 percent in 2019.

Alcohol consumption
JaarExcessive drinkers (% of persons aged 18 yrs and over)Heavy drinkers (% of persons aged 18 yrs and over)
Target for 204055
Source: CBS, RIVM, Trimbos Institute

Half of adult population are overweight

In 2020, half of Dutch adults (50.0 percent) were overweight and 13.9 percent were severely overweight or obese. This was virtually the same in 2019. In the age category 4 to 17 years, 14.7 percent were overweight and 2.5 percent were obese. These shares also remained virtually unchanged compared to 2019.

Overweight and obesity
LeeftijdOvergewicht2019 (%)2020 (%)DOEL 2040 (%)
4 to 17 yrsOverweight13.214.79.1
4 to 17 yrsObese2.12.52.3
18 yrs and overOverweight50.15038
18 yrs and overObese14.713.97.1
Source: CBS, RIVM, Trimbos Institute