Good nutrition is one of the primary objectives of a country's development and emphasis is placed on the prevention and control of the nutrition-related diseases because of the high costs they can impose on a country's health system and its economy.
In 1992 at the International Conference on Nutrition (ICN), held in Rome, nutrition was brought into focus at the global level as it sought to incorporate nutrition objectives into development policies and programmes. As a follow-up to the ICN, the National Nutrition Centre (NNC), in collaboration with agencies in the public and private se developed a National Plan of Action (NPAN). This Plan identified, inter alia, the need for information on household food consumption and nutrition to facilitate policy and programme formulation with the goal of improving the nutritional status and health of Barbadians.
In 2000 the NNC conducted the Barbados Food Consumption and Anthropometric Survey (BFCS). The Survey Report is a concise analysis of the socio-economic, demographic, food acquisition and preparation practices, and assessment of the health and nutritional status of the respondents. It discusses proposed policies, programmes and actions to address nutrition-related problems and recommends that strategic alliances should be formed, as required, between the public and private sectors, especially the food sector, to address specified nutrition problems. The organisation and style of the Report make it a useful reference document for health and nutrition planners as well as decision makers in the food industry. It will also add to the data on food and nutrition surveys in the Caribbean for which few are currently available.
The findings of the Survey revealed the following:
a high prevalence of obesity in the population, especially among the youth thereby putting them at a high risk for developing any of the chronic non- communicable diseases (CNCDs).
a high prevalence of nutrition-related CNCDs among older persons
Barbadians do not have enough understanding of the individual, family and community risks associated with obesity, the CNCDs and the poor quality of life that will result from these risks.
Apart from obesity and overweight, Barbadian diets lack diversity and tend to be inadequate in vitamins and minerals.
The innovative approach of compiling vulnerability profiles from the data to describe individuals among the Barbadian population who are likely to be nutritionally vulnerable, provides a ready reference to economic and demographic factors that are likely to put such individuals at risk. The profiles provide information on the determinants of such nutrition problems as obesity and micronutrient adequacy among others, thus providing programme planners and decision-makers with "tools" to guide policy formulation and design better- targeted programmes