CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (October 8, 2010) — Following years of research and consultation, the federation of St. Kitts-Nevis has launched its Food Based Dietary Guidelines with official ceremonies on both islands.
The National Food Based Dietary Guidelines, as described by Health Educator Ms. Shirley Wilkes, are “a set of recommendations that are focused on practical ways by which Nevisians can achieve optimal health through healthier diets, engaging in physical activity and cutting back on some unhealthy habits.”
Work towards the establishment of the guidelines began years ago when governments present at an international conference in Rome signed on to the World Declaration Plan of Action for Nutrition, thereby pledging to promote healthy eating and healthy lifestyles in their countries.
The guidelines which have been divided into different food groups: starchy foods; peas, beans and nuts; food from animals; sugars and sweeteners; fats and oils; fruits and vegetables, form the shape of a sugar mill to capture the essence of St. Kitts-Nevis.
Consultant from the Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] Dr. Pauline Samuda, who had worked closely with the NIA to fine-tune the guidelines, was present at the historic launch.
Food Based Dietary Guidelines, according to Dr. Samuda “are an integral component of nutrition policy” that “provide the mechanism to link policies related to food, nutrition and health promotion.”
The compilation of the National Food Based Dietary Guidelines was based on the health and nutrition situation in St. Kitts-Nevis as, according to Dr. Samuda, “the entire population, taken through samples, was involved in the development of the guidelines from the wording of the statements to the selection of the diagram representing the guidelines.”
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Patrick Martin, represented the Federal Ministry of Health in the absence of the Honourable Marcella Liburd and described the efforts of the Ministry of Health on Nevis as a combination of “talking, preaching, often beseeching residents to take more control of their health.”
Dr. Martin, in his remarks, highlighted the factors driving the guidelines and added that if the guidelines are followed, there will be less disability and death, within one generation, from high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. This, according to him “will help save families, insurance companies and the government countless millions.”
In addressing the anticipated post-launch work, Dr. Martin encouraged persons present to launch robust social marketing campaigns that are “punctuated with catchy but factual messages” that raise awareness among the youth population.
“From this point onwards, the task is to walk the byways and hedges of Nevis and hit the media airwaves and bandwidths with evangelistic fervor then follow up with a study to assess the extent and impact of guideline uptake and use by individuals and families,” Martin said.
Also present at the launching ceremony were Minister of Agriculture the Honourable Robelto Hector, Minister of Health the Honourable Hensley Daniel, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Judy Nisbett, Advisor to the Ministry of Health Mrs. Patricia Hanley, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Mrs. Jocelyn Liburd, other health officials and a student contingent from the Gingerland Secondary School.