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Achieving good nutrition is a crucial step towards achieving a healthy population. Research repeatedly highlights the links between diet and health, the best recognized of which are those between diet and diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and certain cancers. Other links include calcium with osteoporosis, salt with hypertension, and folate with birth defects, to name but a few.

The cost of diet-related disease is high both to a country's health system and economy and to its people, in human and financial terms. In common with many of its Caribbean neighbours, Barbados has experienced changes that may have had a negative impact on lifestyles and health and that include socio-economic development, changed patterns of food acquisition and consumption, and increasingly sedentary lifestyles. The survey results highlight a number of key nutritional (and nutrition-related) problems that merit urgent attention. The survey report contains a wealth of information to guide the choice and design of appropriate policies and programmes. This chapter proposes some broad areas for action, in the context of an overall nutrition strategy, and the operational strategies needed to achieve successful programmes. The overarching goal of such a nutrition strategy is clear, and reflects the goals of Barbados' National Plan of Action on Nutrition (approved by Cabinet in 1998) and the mission of NNC: the improvement of the nutrition and health of all sections of the population - and the maintenance of such improvement - through information, access to a safe, affordable food supply, and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.

The primary food and nutrition-related problems and issues identified by the survey are:

This chapter proposes some policies, programmes and actions to address these issues.

Making informed choices

Creating an informed consumer is an essential first step towards changing lifestyles. Barbados has clear advantages in this regard: its food supply is plentiful, it has an educated population, and most Barbadians enjoy a high standard of living. To make informed choices, the consumer needs the following:

Taking preventive action

While the dietary management of CNCDs receives commendable attention from NNC, the survey found that the prevention of obesity and CNCDs appears not to be adequately addressed. Preventive action could include the following elements:

Improving dietary management

Current practices in the dietary management of CNCDs should be examined to find ways of increasing the diversity of the foods in diet plans. When providing dietary counselling, health professionals need to stress foods that the client can eat, or should eat more of, and not just those to be avoided. Moreover, every effort should be made to reach clients who are overweight but not suffering from a CNCD, in order to encourage weight reduction before a chronic disorder such as diabetes or hypertension develops. Individual weight reduction plans, including those for CNCD sufferers, should be comprehensive and include all aspects of a healthy lifestyle, especially an exercise programme.

Special targeted programmes


Other data can be accessed to provide relevant information:

- data on the number of people diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension and other selected chronic disorders;

- haemoglobin data from antenatal clinics;

- sales data from selected fast-food chains

[31] Guyana will shortly be assessing pregnant women’s compliance with the use of “sprinkles”, an iron and folate supplement packaged in daily dose sachets, which is sprinkled over food. Other micronutrients can be included in the sachets.
[32] In addition to increasing physical education, schools can promote exercise in classes through, for example, breaking classes for a brief ten-minute exercise regimen, and encouraging a daily exercise plan of walking a mile a day in school. These are being tried out in the United States, and could also be explored in Barbados.
[33] Sentinel sites are specific geographic areas of limited size that are selected to represent larger areas. They can include rural and urban sites with different socio-economic populations.

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