GFNC Modifies Its Food Based Dietary Guidelines To Promote Healthier Eating Lifestyles

The growing concern of obesity and non-communicable diseases among the population has prompted the Grenada Food and Nutrition Council (GFNC) to modify its Food Based Dietary Guidelines for Grenada.

The guidelines, which were first launched in 2016, will be enhanced using graphics with the aim of teaching people how to choose better foods for a healthier life. With the assistance of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Consultant with the FAO, Veronica Molina, was in Grenada for a recent workshop to provide technical support in this regard. 

The workshop was held at the Public Workers Union (PWU) Building, with the aim of analyzing the data from a study done on eating habits. The findings will then be used to inform the changes to the guidelines for the benefit of the population.

“What we are trying to do, is to help people do better choices regarding food. Our main problem is obesity and chronic diseases, and all these problems come from bad food choices and lack of physical activity. What we are trying to do is give the population practical messages to help them to make better choices with the food available in their own local context. That is why we are using a lot of ethnographic studies to understand what people, believe, think, what people can do and what people cannot do because as technicians we know what is better for the population but we also want to know if they are willing to follow these recommendations,” FAO Consultant, Veronica Molina said.

FAO Consultant to Grenada, Stephanie Lewis further described what will take place when putting the guidelines together.

“We would try to look at the results from the focus groups, and take that results and put it into the messages. So, whatever suggestions that were made, whatever barriers, or whatever benefits, we will take that and use that for the graphics and for the messages but also to prepare educational materials for the country. These are guidelines for the entire country, but the objective is to make some fundamental changes in the way we eat, how much we eat, how we prepare what we eat, so that later in life, we will reduce the incidence of chronic diseases and other health issues. 

Executive Secretary of the GFNC, Lydia Browne, explained that the guidelines will show proportioned amounts of food individuals must consume.

“Our last guidelines actually gave us half of our consumption as starch, but what we are recognizing is that we are eating so much of that now that looking at the health situation now, we have to readjust. So, we know that fruits and vegetables, vegetables in particular that are very high in nutrients in terms of vitamins and minerals and very low in starch or carbohydrates, that we need to promote that a lot more and so those are going to take a larger proportion,” she stated.

The guidelines, Browne said, will also highlight an increase intake of Legumes.

“I am passionate about the legume portion for Grenada because I see as we move towards our climate smart way of agriculture and eating, I think that’s an area that we really need to focus on; that people are not consuming so much of our animal protein and they incorporate a little more of the plant based proteins,” she remarked.

One of the participants of the workshop, Assistant Agricultural Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Anna Abraham, who was there representing the 4-H Unit of the Ministry, said the information will augur well for the work that is done with the 4-H Clubs.

“More information as to ways to eat healthy, things to do to live a healthier life and we can pass that information on to the children in the schools in the 4-H clubs,” she said.

Media Representative, Kern Mason, also welcomed the initiative of the GFNC, and asked that media houses share the message of practicing healthy eating habits.

“I was a part of the initial process, in terms of the graphics and putting some of the guidelines together. In anything that you do, media is important in spreading the message and getting the word out there, I think it’s very important that most of the media houses get on board and try to spread the message out there 

The new Food Based Dietary Guidelines is expected to be officially launched in 2020.