70–80% of children in Grenada have dental problems. Overweight among children is becoming an issue. Between 20–40% of all our children are anaemic. Over the last 4 years, Cardiovascular Risk Factors (CRF) for children have increased, especially in the St George’s district.
These are the facts that are facing our nation, and it is in this respect that the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands is pleased to join with the Grenada Food and Nutrition Council (GFNC) in advising against added sugars, alcohol, fried foods, and highly processed foods in its Revised Food-Based Dietary Guidelines, which was launched recently.
With healthy food choices exhibited, the guidelines were launched at the Sir Eric Matthew Gairy Botanical Gardens, with the patronage of Governor-General, Dame Cécile La Grenade.
This initiative was made possible through funding from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and FAO National Correspondent, Michael Church Jr, said these guidelines should establish a basis for public food and nutrition, health and agricultural policies and nutrition education programmes. “…to foster healthy eating habits and lifestyles for all, addressing the increasing trend of overweight and obesity. Specifically, we hope that it can be a good tool to enhance the national school feeding programme, hospital meals, public procurement, advertising regulations, industry standards etc. They should be an important tool in Grenada’s effort to address the high dependency on food importation,” he said.
These food suggestions, according to the guidelines, promote the choices of vegetables, staples, peas, beans and nuts, food from animals, fruits and a moderate amount of fats and oils. It further recommends the use of getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
The implementation of these guidelines is fully endorsed by the Ministry of Health, as Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Francis Martin, gave a breakdown of some of the ills the country is faced with. He said, “Let us implement this guideline, because processed foods are laden with high fructose corn syrup. Everything that took a plane and a boat to get here, has high fructose corn syrup in it and soya bean products. High fructose corn syrup and soya bean set you on a path to become diabetic. It affects the metabolic rate of our children and ourselves.”
“We need to implement these guidelines,” he continued, “because there is phosphoric acid that is in all the beverages and sodas. Phosphoric acid causes calcium to be leached from the bones of our children. The science is clear; colourful foods are the ones that help to build our immune systems.”
Minister for Agriculture, Hon Yolande Bain-Horsford, speaking at the launch of the guidelines, said it is very concerning, the negative impacts chronic non-communicable diseases can have on Grenada’s health sector and by extension the productive sectors of the economy.
She implored upon the populace to heed the advice of the GFNC. “We live in an era where access to quality information, which promotes a healthy lifestyle, is at our fingertips, but in many cases, we choose to ignore or fail to heed such advice. Instead, we continue to be victims of the fast lane of a modern lifestyle, to the detriment of ourselves and our families…”
“…The time has come for us to change our dietary habits and today we are proud recipients of a blueprint – the Revised Food-Based Dietary Guidelines. Therefore, I want to encourage all of us to see this piece of work, not as a document to be remembered only when the time comes for another revision, but to put it into good use,” she remarked.
Ministry of Agriculture – ensuring food and nutrition security for all
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