Yesterday, Uganda joined the rest of the World to commemorate the World Food Day; a day found by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the UN in 1945. This year’s theme was: “Our Actions Are Our Future, Healthy Diets for A #ZeroHunger World”.
The day aims to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition in a lifetime, nourish people with healthy diets that include a variety of safe and nutritious foods and maintain the health of the planet.
The theme aims to open our eyes to malnutrition in a way most people did not know, as FAO states: “Malnutrition is often confused with undernourishment and hunger. But it spans every aspect of nutrition including under nutrition, inadequate vitamins and minerals, obesity, overweight and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that can be caused due to unhealthy food habits. Examples of such NCDs are diabetes, heart diseases, and stroke.”
Bringing the conversation on poor feeding now is timely as it is estimated there is a high rise in obesity and NCDs in Uganda today. For instance, last year, figures from the World Health Organisation obtained by the Uganda NCD Alliance indicated that NCDs kill up to 100,000 people annually; which is 35 per cent of the total annual deaths in the country.
Ugandans have no excuse in as far as information about lifestyle diseases, especially those caused by poor eating habits, are concerned. A number of food bloggers, nutritionists and doctors have come up to educate the population through social media, radio shows, etc about how best to avoid most common NCDs such as diabetes and heart diseases. But with the ever increasing fast foods eating places and sedentary lifestyles; this battle is far from over.
In light of the Food Day, FAO guides that preventing lifestyle diseases has a lot to do with adopting a healthy diet. They urge people to make some of these changes, including cooking and eating at home, adding more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts in your diet.
In addition, one should always read the food labels, cut back on sugar, unhealthy fats and salt, swap refined ‘white’ options (such as white bread and rice) with healthier ‘brown’ options, add healthy fats in your diet - unsaturated fats and exercise for at least half an hour every day.
These should not apply only to adults, but also children through adding as many colours to their plate as possible, including engaging them in fun cooking activities and cooking healthy foods in ways they would like instead of the usual plain boiled. You should know that children are also prone to lifestyle diseases as adults. Ultimately, we are what we eat!
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