The Powerful Foundation to reduce Non Communicable disease – Food/Dietary habits : The food and agriculture sector plays a major role in nourishing people by increasing the availability of and access to diverse, safe and nutritious food, which meets dietary recommendations and principles relating to environmental sustainability. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have emerged as the leading cause of human mortality and morbidity in low-, middle- and high-income countries. NCDs are not considered only as social burden; the economic costs of NCDs are also accelerating worldwide. Malnutrition, unhealthy diets and unwholesome food pattern are important risk factors for non-communicable diseases.
Of 56.9 million global deaths in 2016, 40.5 million, or 71%, were due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The four main NCDs are cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. The burden of these diseases is rising disproportionately among lower income countries and populations. In 2016, over three quarters of NCD deaths – 31.5 million – occurred in low- and middle-income countries with about 46% of deaths occurring before the age of 70 in these countries. The leading causes of NCD deaths in 2016 were cardiovascular diseases (17.9 million deaths, or 44% of all NCD deaths), cancers (9.0 million, or 22% of all NCD deaths), and respiratory diseases, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (3.8 million of 9% of all NCD deaths). Diabetes caused another 1.6 million deaths.
Behaviors like intake of high proportion of unhealthy diet like – consuming less fruits and vegetables, high salt and trans-fat consumption, and physical inactivity are the common modifiable risk factors of NCDs while overweight and obesity, raised blood pressure, raised blood glucose and abnormal blood lipids are the metabolic risk factors. Such behaviors are determined by social structures, economic disparities, and market forces that entice the people into buying and consuming unhealthy products such as ultra-processed foods and drinks, among other examples. The rise in obesity and NCDs is associated with a shift towards energy-dense diets, which are characterized by highly processed foods high in refined starches, sugar, fats, and/or salt, accompanied by an insufficient intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrain, pulses, nuts and seeds. This shift is also coupled with sedentary lifestyles and low levels of physical activity. Most of the world’s population now lives in countries where overweight and obesity kill more people than underweight. Globally, calories obtained from meat, sugars and oils and fats have been increasing during recent decades, and those from fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, pulses and roots have been declining. Consumption of processed and convenience foods continue to rise rapidly in LMICs. This nutrition transition affects dietary patterns and nutrient intake, which influence the risk of developing NCDs.
According to the steps survey -2019 of non communicable disease (NCD) risk factors in Nepal which was carried out from February to May 2019 as an integral nationwide Non communicable surveillance, an unhealthy diet is one of the main five risk factors of non communicable diseases and promotion of unhealthy diet is one of the recommended components of policies and program in global action plan to reduce the burden of NCDs. Transformation of current food systems to improve availability, affordability, and uptake of nutritious, safe, affordable, and sustainable diets is to tackling malnutrition in all its forms and diet related NCDs. The provision of nutrients in the womb, and what we eat and how active we are from birth onwards influences the size and shape of the human body throughout the life course. These processes influence the rate at which we grow and mature from conception to adult life, and our physical and mental development.
Consuming predominantly plant-based diets reduces the risk of developing obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and some forms of cancer. Plant-based diets are high in vegetables and fruits, whole grains, pulses, nuts and seeds, and have only modest amounts of meat and dairy. These diets help to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce blood pressure, and are also rich in sources of dietary fiber (which protects against colorectal cancer).
According to WHO, a healthy diet for an adult includes the following:
- Fruit, vegetables, legumes (e.g. lentils and beans), nuts and whole grains (e.g. unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat and brown rice).
- At least 400 g (i.e. five portions) of fruit and vegetables per day, excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots.
- Less than 10% of total energy intake from frees sugars, which is equivalent to 50 g (or about 12 level teaspoons) for a person of healthy body weight consuming about 2000 calories per day, but ideally is less than 5% of total energy intake for additional health benefits. Free sugars are all sugars added to foods or drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, as well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.
- Less than 30% of total energy intake from fats .Unsaturated fats (found in fish, avocado and nuts, and in sunflower, soybean, canola and olive oils) are preferable to saturated fats (found in fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oil, cream, cheese, ghee and lard) and trans –fats of all kinds, including both industrially-produced trans-fats (found in baked and fried foods, and pre-packaged snacks and foods, such as frozen pizza, pies, cookies, biscuits, wafers, and cooking oils and spreads) and ruminant trans-fat (found in meat and dairy foods from ruminant animals, such as cows, sheep, goats and camels). It is suggested that the intake of saturated fats be reduced to less than 10% of total energy intake and trans-fat to less than 1% of total energy intake. In particular, industrially-produced trans-fats are not part of a healthy diet and should be avoided.
- Less than 5 g of salt (equivalent to about one teaspoon) per day. Salt should be iodized.
Prevention of NCDs is a growing issue: the burden of NCDs falls mainly on developing countries, where 82% of premature deaths from these diseases occur. Tackling the risk factors mainly the diet will therefore not only save lives; it will also provide a huge boost for the economic development of countries. Diet evolves over time, being influenced by many social and economic factors that interact in a complex manner to shape individual dietary patterns. These factors include income, food prices (which will affect the availability and affordability of healthy foods), individual preferences and beliefs, cultural traditions, and geographical and environmental aspects (including climate change). Therefore, promoting a healthy food environment – including food systems that promote a diversified, balanced and healthy diet can be the better solution to tackle NCDs.
About Author of The Powerful Foundation to reduce Non Communicable disease – Food/Dietary habits
- ✍️ Miss Sarita Neupane
- Food and Nutrition Assistant
- Rashtriya Khadya Bank. Ltd
- Public health student
Recommended Citation :Neupane, S., 2021. The Powerful Foundation to reduce Non Communicable disease – Food/Dietary habits. [online] Nepal Health Magazine. Available at: <https://nepalhealthmag.com/the-powerful-foundation-to-reduce-non-communicable-disease-food-dietary-habits/> [Accessed 12 May 2021].
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