Ghana has become the eighth country in Africa and fourth in West Africa to launch food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG).
The guidelines will serve as a tool to promote healthy eating through increased access to evidence-informed nutrition and health information among the public, especially children above five years.
The 45-pager booklet recommends the daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes/nuts/grains, animal-source, water, healthy fat in moderation, regular physical exercise and ensuring food safety.
Mr Yaw Frimpong Addo, a Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, who launched the guidelines said it was an important step towards the achievement of the country’s food systems transformation pathways for ensuring access to healthy diets.
The FBDG, he stated, aimed at promoting optimal diets, and addressing malnutrition and diet-related diseases and would contribute to the control of the epidemic of increasing non-communicable diseases and adverse outcomes among Ghanaians.
“This is significant because as we all know, food, nutrition and health constitute the bedrock of a healthy nation. It is built with the whole lifecycle from childhood to adulthood, with the aged also very much in sharp focus and firmly grounded on the principles of diversity, which ensures access to food,” he said.
Mr Addo urged the public to practice the recommendations of healthy eating to reduce food losses, intake of alcohol, help attain sustainable development and build a healthy country.
Professor Anna Lartey, a former Director of the Food Agriculture Organisation, who spearheaded the initiative, said the guideline was best suited for the public to eat healthy.
The country, she said, had many healthy indigenous food stuff and that people needed to incorporate them in their diet.
Prof. Lartey urged leadership of the School Feeding Programme and Senior High Schools to ensure that caterers followed the guide in feeding students to promote quality of life and productivity.
Professor Richmond Aryeetey, Co-Chair of the Multi-stakeholder Technical Task Team, said scientific evidence had shown that increased consumption of foods high in simple sugars, salt, and certain types of fats increases our risk for diet-related chronic diseases.
He said there was evidence that a careful planning of one’s diet to limit consumption of sugar, salt and fats, while increasing consumption of foods rich in diverse nutrients could contribute to improving one’s health and wellbeing.
It could reduce one’s chance of becoming ill with diseases of dietary origin.
Mr. Charles Abani, the UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana, in a speech delivered on his behalf, commended Ghana for the millstone and integrating aspects of a new food systems approach to dietary guidelines.
He said in 2020, globally, almost 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet, which with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic was expected to increase.
It was hoped that the world would emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 and food security would begin to improve but world hunger rose further, he noted.
Mr Abani said the disruptions in the global and local economy, threatening food and nutrition security and livelihood of vulnerable people presented a desperate call to duty and an opportunity for all stakeholders and sectors to work together as one in ameliorating the situation.
Ghana, he said like many low- and middle-income countries, was experiencing the burden of malnutrition and Non-Communicable Diseases, including hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and cancers.
The UN, he said, would continue to support the government’s efforts to disseminate and implement the guidelines to reach all relevant stakeholders and targeted population groups in the principle of leaving no one behind.