The International Conference on Nutrition, convened by FAO/WHO in Rome, 1992, aimed basically at identifying and encouraging the adoption of strategies and actions to improve nutritional wellbeing and food consumption throughout the world. It adopted the World Declaration and Plan of Action for Nutrition which includes among its goals (para. 19 of the Declaration):
To make all efforts to eliminate before the end of this decade:
famine and famine-related deaths;
starvation and nutritional deficiency diseases in communities affected by natural and man-made disasters;
iodine and vitamin A deficiencies;
and to reduce substantially within this decade:
starvation and widespread chronic hunger;
undernutrition, especially among children, women and the aged;
other important micronutrient deficiencies, including iron;
diet-related communicable and noncommunicable diseases;
social and other impediments to optimal breast-feeding;
inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene, including unsafe drinking-water.
The Plan of Action includes among its strategies "promoting appropriate diets and healthy lifestyles", and calls upon governments "on the basis of energy and nutrient recommendations, to provide advice to the public by disseminating, through use of mass media and other appropriate means, qualitative and/or quantitative dietary guidelines relevant for different age groups and lifestyles and appropriate for the country's population" (para. 45 d).
In pursuance of these goals and strategies, WHO and FAO jointly convened in Nicosia, Cyprus, from 2 to 7 March 1995, an Expert Consultation on "preparation and use of food-based dietary guidelines." Participants in the consultation (Annex 1) included 22 experts from countries in all regions of the world. The consultation was hosted by the Government of Cyprus and the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean.
Purpose and procedure of the consultation
The specific objectives of the consultation were to review the scientific evidence and epidemiology of diet-related health problems, including noncommunicable diseases (NCD) and other forms of malnutrition; to review existing literature on recommended nutrient intakes (RNI) and develop a synthesis of current nutrient recommendations, applicable to food-based guidelines"; to review relevant dietary assessment methodologies; to review existing national dietary guidelines and their use in countries; and to make recommendations for the development and implementation of FBDG.
The consultation was opened by H.E. Mr Manolis Christophides, Minister of Health of the Government of Cyprus. The elected office-bearers were:
Chairman, Dr M.J. Gibney; Vice-Chairman, Dr R. Uauy; Rapporteurs - Dr S. Dagher, Dr B.O. Schneeman. The programme of work of the consultation is given in Annex 2. The initial two days were spent in plenary session, with presentations and discussions on each of the foregoing themes. Thereafter most of the work was done in four working and drafting groups, which also met together each day to share progress and ensure appropriate interaction between the various groups. The consultation was marked by intensive cooperative efforts among all participants, the work being done in delightful surroundings with the warm and generous hospitality of the Cyprus authorities.
1 FAO/WHO International Conference on Nutrition. World Declaration and Plan of Action for Nutrition, FAO Rome 1992.