Nutrition for Health and Wellness is an increasingly important issue. The global economic crisis and the escalating threats of obesity and diabetes are forcing governments to reevaluate their policies on nutrition. In an international breakout held within the month after the landmark Food Systems for Nutrition and Health workshops, a panel of eminent experts comprising government, academia, industry and NGOs discussed how current food policy needs to change to facilitate nutrition for health and wellbeing and drive nutrition for better health. The meeting brought together leading experts from different sectors to discuss how nutrition for health can be made a priority in the public sector.
The meeting was hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and was led by the Global Burden of Disease Expert Panel. The panel heard evidence on nutrition for health from a variety of sources. These included governments, NGOs, academics, researchers, advocacy groups, researchers, consultants, and specialists from national agencies. The consensus reached at the end of the day was that comprehensive efforts are required to tackle not just nutrition for health but also to reduce and eliminate the burden of nutrition-related malnutrition.
Nutrition for health must start with comprehensive efforts from all sectors of society. The panel concluded with some recommendations to increase awareness and implementation of policies aimed at nutrition for better health globally. Recommendations from the panel called for greater use of information technology, including e-books, databases and video, and improved collaboration and inter-sectoral coordination at all levels of the food system. It was also suggested that governments should work closely with civil society, industry, community and local organizations to create a comprehensive nutrition plan. The panel further recommended that governments should take action to reduce the burdens of nutrition-related malnutrition.
During the discussion on nutrition for health professionals, the panel heard from prominent nutritionists, educators, public health experts, international agencies, nutrition consultants, women’s health programs, and agriculture specialists. The consensus on the need to strengthen nutrition education and promotion throughout the different sectors of society arose from the evidence provided by experts that malnutrition causes many other diseases such as chronic kidney diseases, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, cancer, and even diabetes. There is an urgent need for a new approach to diet and nutrition, especially with the global increase in population, the aging of the world’s population, and inadequate food resources.
The panel noted that obesity is one of the major causes of chronic diseases. Obesity is a leading cause of increased morbidity and mortality, especially in low-income countries, the Panel realized. It was also agreed that an integrated nutrition approach, incorporating a well balanced diet, physical activity, and stress management, is essential for reducing the burden of chronic diseases. While there is a correlation between eating habits and obesity, the Panel emphasized that it is not possible to infer a direct relationship between diet and chronic disease.
Nutrition for Health is meant to address the dietary needs of growing older adults. The participants in the nutrition for health project were asked to assess the quality of their diets and to report on their level of fitness, which is a key determinant of longevity. Overall, the report concluded that nutrition for health should emphasize foods that are low in saturated fat, sodium, and total cholesterol while increasing the consumption of foods that are high in fiber, minerals, and vitamins. The foods that promote longevity are brightly colored fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals, nuts, legumes, and seeds. These foods have been shown to be the most important components of a healthy diet for a healthier living.
According to the nutritional experts, it is important to implement foods that are nutritionally sufficient and free of contaminants and additives. The panel heard from several participants who had participated in a nutrition for health project, and these individuals provided an in depth analysis of various foods. The participants recommended four specific foods as the cornerstone of a nutritionally sound diet. These foods include whole grains, green leafy vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products.
The review panel noted that many of the participants experienced some difficulty in introducing these new foods into their diet. According to them, more research is needed to verify that these recommendations for a healthy eating plan are effective. However, the panel was able to confirm that a well-rounded diet is beneficial to all of us. It is important to remember that adopting a balanced food system that includes nutrition for health is one of the most important things that we can do to maintain our lives and our health.