Professor Francis Bruno Zotor of the UHAS School of Public Health, who is a nutrition expert and council member of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS), has called on African governments to make concerted efforts to adopt food-based dietary guidelines to help boost nutrition in their various countries.
Only seven African countries, namely, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra-Leone, Benin, Seychelles Islands, Kenya and Ethiopia, currently have food-based dietary guidelines.
Prof. Zotor was speaking, October 16, at a webinar organised by IMDEA Food Institute with IUNS to mark this year’s World Food Day and the 75th Anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The webinar, which empanelled several world experts on food and nutrition, discussed the question: “Can we ensure healthy and sustainable nutrition?”
Prof. Zotor bemoaned how the global food environment is becoming increasingly unhealthy due to the “increasing abundance of cheap, ultra-processed and low nutrient profile foods, and diminishing availability and reduced market share of healthy foods.”
Another speaker, Prof. AncensciÔn Marcos of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), called on all and sundry to maintain appropriate weight to lessen the effects of the coronavirus disease.
Vice President of IUNS, Dr. Vish Prakash, emphasised that nutrition is the priority of everyone during this Covid-19 pandemic, as it is the only option for recovery in the absence of a vaccine. “Vaccine may be once in a lifetime, but nutrition is a daily dose, building body immunity. It is the strongest agenda today, until we get a vaccine.”
Dr. Lalita Bhattacharjee, Senior Nutrition Advisor with FAO, advocated for the integration of nutrition education and programmes with agriculture, so as to ensure that food is not only energy rich but also nutrient rich.
Director of IMDEA Food Institute, Dr. Guillermo Reglero, congratulated FAO on the attainment of 75 years and their global impact. He called for global awareness and establishment of global commitments and actions that will transform food systems to solve not only hunger, but also reduce diet-related diseases and heal the planet.
World Food Day is exceptional this year, as countries around the world face the widespread effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Food and Agriculture Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. It was founded in October 1945.
The webinar was moderated by the President of the IUNS, Dr. Alfredo Martinez, who is a senior Scientist at IMDEA Food Institute.