Eating food for a healthy diet
Whether we are eating bigger portions or are not following a balanced diet, the fact is that the population of the jewel is overweight. This morning, a dietary guideline was launched as a preventative approach for good nutrition practices. The booklet was put together by the Ministry of Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization. News Five Delahnie Bain reports from the House of Culture.
Dr. Peter Allen, C.E.O., Ministry of Health
“More than sixty percent of our adult population is either overweight or clinically obese. Chronic health challenges resulting from this fact are devastating families and communities across our country. This is unacceptable and it is preventable and we know the solution lies in better diet and more exercise.”
That message from Ministry of Health C.E.O., Dr. Peter Allen, underscores the need for the food-based dietary guidelines for Belize that were launched at the House of Culture today. It’s a user-friendly guide that provides advice on simple changes that can make big differences in the health of the population.
Robyn Daly, Nutritionist, Ministry of Health
“As we look around us, we see the huge impact that chronic diseases such as obesity, cancer and hypertension has had on all of us. These dietary guidelines form a part of our preventative strategy. We have combined the science of good nutrition and health and put them in an easy to follow guide. We as Belizeans need to welcome these guidelines and use them as parts of our daily living.”
Dr. Jerome Thomas, Regional Representative, FAO
“The purpose of the food-based dietary guidelines is to assist the population in following nutrition and health related recommendations. Food-based dietary guidelines are a tool for nutrition education and behavior change to be used by health providers, teachers, journalists, extension agents and others working directly with the public. Food-based dietary guidelines present information that uses language and symbols that the public can easily understand.”
The guidelines are tailored to meet the specific social and cultural needs of the country and Dr. Jerome Thomas, the Regional Representative for the Food and Agriculture Organization, outlined some key issues observed in Belize.
Dr. Jerome Thomas
“Similar to other Caribbean countries, Belize faces several nutritional problems including, high intake of fatty and sugary foods among the population, high intake of salty foods among the population, unbalanced diets and poor food choices, overweight and obesity, high morbidity and mortality rate due to no communicable diseases, poor food safety practices and lack or reduced physical activity.”
And as all diets do, the guidelines recommend a higher intake of fruits and vegetables. But according to Dr. Thomas, that also creates a financial challenge for some families.
Dr. Jerome Thomas
“Food-based dietary guidelines always stress the importance of variety and balance. It is also very common for Food-based dietary guidelines to promote increased fruit and vegetable consumption since daily consumption of fruit and vegetables add vitamins and fiber to the diet and could help prevent obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. A challenge we face though is that sometimes when we’re encouraging the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, this sometimes is more expensive than the food one would normally use.”
The booklet includes a total of eight guidelines and also suggests recipes to smoothen the transition into a healthier lifestyle. Delahnie Bain for News Five.
The development of the Food-based dietary guidelines started with multi-sectoral workshops as far back as 2009. The Food and Agriculture Organization became involved in the process at the end of 2010 to provide technical assistance.