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Workshop to assist in developing healthy eating habits

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Thursday, January 20, 2005 - A two-day inter-sectoral meeting comprising health officials and practitioners, together with representatives of the public and private sectors and the youth is now underway at the Bay Gardens hotel. The meeting, which is being co-ordinated by the Ministry of Health and Human Services is to develop a food- based Dietary Guidelines Project, as a means of assisting persons in developing healthy eating habits.

The food- based Dietary Guidelines Project is funded by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Government of St. Lucia, with technical assistance from the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute. The project, which will be launched on World Food Day on October 16th, 2005 will be implemented in Dominica, Grenada, St. Vincent and St. Lucia.

However, Chief Nutritionist in the Ministry of Health, Merlyn Severin said the guidelines to be adopted must be inexpensive, and culturally acceptable: “We cannot just import guidelines of another country, because one of the difficulty we might have is that it may not fit our habits/lifestyle, so that is why we did food consumption survey among the population, and we went from adolescent to adults to understand how they eat, what they like, what they would like to see , how they got their information, and so we are going to come up with recommendations”.

According to Mrs. Severin, the project was driven by the increasing availability of foods on the market for consumption, and the indiscreet use of some of those foods: “And what we are seeing, because more food is available, people are getting fatter and fatter, and as people get fatter and fatter, we have more chronic, non-communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease. So we have to halt it now”.

Mrs. Severin said the Co-ordinators are confident that the project will achieve its goal. A follow-up to the St. Lucia meeting will take place in St. Vincent.

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