Healthy Eating

An unhealthy diet is a major risk factor for chronic diseases and general poorer health. Many international organisations and researchers, including the World Health Organisation, have recognised the importance of improving diet in both developed and developing nations. The prevalence of over eating, and consumption of nutrient-poor, calorie dense foods has led to a global epidemic of obesity: in the last decade the prevalence of obesity has passed that of malnutrition as the primary source diet-related morbidity.

Pillar 4 focuses on the role that diet plays in self-care, maintaining health and reducing the risk of diet-related non-communicable disease.

Healthy eating is important because…

However, as with exercise, it is never too late for an individual to improve their diet and work on eating healthily; the benefits gained from improved diet are both immediately apparent and life-long.

Unhealthy eating is the cause of…

As a result of unhealthy eating, the prevalence of obesity has risen exponentially worldwide in the last two decades. This is seen in developed nations, developing nations, in in adults and in children. In 2008, 35% of adults aged over 20 years were overweight. Globally, in 2010, the number of overweight children under the age of five is estimated to be over 42 million.

WHO recommendations for healthy eating…

The World Health Organisation’s recommendations of health eating are set out in the “Global strategy on diet, exercise and health”, 2004. These recommendations recognise that changes in patterns of diet and physical activity at a population level will be gradual, and national and organisational strategies will need a clear plan for long-term and sustained disease-prevention measures. However, individual reductions in risk factors and in non-communicable diseases can occur quite quickly when effective changes are made and then sustained.

For a healthy diet, recommendations for individuals include the following:

·Achieve an energy balance and a healthy weight

·Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, and legumes, whole grains and nuts

·Limit energy intake from total fats and shift fat consumption away from saturated fats to unsaturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids

·Limit the intake of simple sugars

·Limit salt (sodium) consumption from all sources and ensure that the majority of salt consumed is iodized

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