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Zambia launches dietary guidelines

MONICA KAYOMBO, Lusaka
AS ZAMBIA becomes the seventh country in Africa to launch the food-based dietary guidelines (FBDGs), citizens have been implored to consume indigenous foods to improve their nutritional status and prevent lifestyle diseases. And Minister of Agriculture Reuben Mtolo says Government is ready to work with stakeholders to ensure the uptake of nutritious foods and healthy lifestyles at all levels of society. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) FBDG fact sheet, foods like beans, peas and other legumes are being recommended as high in fibre. Other foods are fish, pumpkins, naturally grown vegetables, tubers like cassava, sweet potatoes and bio-fortified foods, coupled with physical exercise. Mr Mtolo said this yesterday during the launch of the food-based dietary guidelines. He said Government is determined to promote healthy diet patterns that will help address high rates of under-nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies among various groups.
“The promotion of a healthy lifestyle and consumption of diverse diet will also address issues of obesity and the increase in the prevalence of diet-related and non-communicable diseases (NCDs),” he said. Mr Mtolo said the new regime needs to strengthen implementation of the nutrition interventions through the National Development Plan and the National Food and Strategic Plan 2017-2021. He thanked FAO and the European Union (EU) for supporting the FBDGs project, which lasted two years. The project was undertaken by food and nutritional experts drawn from the National Food and Nutrition Commission (NFNC), Programme Against Malnutrition (PAM), Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, and United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), among others. Mr Mtolo said Government is confident that the FBDG will yield the desired results as it is scientifically generated. He said the ministry will ensure that it strengthens its extension service systems that mainstream nutrition in its approach while fully using the FBDGs to sensitise farmers on the importance of nutrition. Mr Mtolo said the ministry will also work with its counterparts at Education and Health to ensure the programmes are successful. FAO country representative Suze Percy Filippini said the exercise was consultative and widely participatory among nutrition partners. Ms Filippini hailed Government for successfully developing the guidelines, which she said would impact positively on the quality of life. Zambia has the highest levels of malnutrition in the world, with 35 percent of children having stunted growth. And a nutritionist, Mercy Chikoko, said over 11 types of cancer are diet-related. “If food is eaten in the right proportions, you reduce on burden of diseases such as cancer and many more,”Ms Chikoko said. CLICK TO READ MORE



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