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Food-based dietary guidelines

Food-based dietary guidelines - Benin

Official name 

Benin's dietary guidelines (French: Guide alimentaire du Bénin).

Publication year

The guidelines were published in 2015. They will be revised every 5 years.

Process and stakeholders

The ‘Benin's dietary guidelines’ were developed by a multisectorial group that included governmental agencies, academic institutions, international organizations and civil society. The guidelines are pending endorsement from the National Food and Nutrition Council.

Linear programming was used to determine, for each predefined food group, the optimal number and size of servings of commonly consumed foods.

Intended audience

Benin's dietary guidelines are aimed at the healthy population 2 years and over, primarily in urban and semi-urban settings. They include separate food group recommendations (serving sizes) for different population groups disaggregated by gender: children 2-13 years, adolescents 14-18 years, adults 19 years and over and pregnant and lactating women.

Food guide

The graphical representation of the guidelines is a round traditional house with a thatch roof. Five food groups are displayed as wall layers in order of largest to smallest amounts: cereals/tubers; plant/animal-protein foods; vegetables; fruits; and dairy products (or high-Ca foods as substitutes). At the entrance there is a bottle of water, symbol of Beninese hospitality and a reminder that plenty of water should be drank throughout the day.

Messages

  • Do physical activity—such fast walking or your favourite sport—every day for at least 30 minutes. People who do physically demanding jobs can worry a little less about doing physical activity outside of work. Sustained physical activity contributes to the efficacy of insulin, weight control and the prevention of high blood pressure.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, aubergines and green leafy vegetables each day, either separately of as part of a sauce.
  • Eat fruits every day. Fruits are a rich source of vitamin, minerals and antioxidants.
  • Drink carbonated drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages in moderation. These kinds of drinks only provide sugar and can promote obesity and diabetes.
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do not consume more than one drink a day, as alcohol can be toxic to the body even in small doses.
  • Avoid meals and products high in salt. An excessive consumption of salt by adding extra salt to meals at the table, frequently consuming salted fish and stock cube usage, may increase the risk of high blood pressure. Seasoning with prawns, garlic and ginger provides little salt.
  • Consume fish frequently. When there is no meat, fish or eggs in a given day, you can replace them with pulses, peanuts, soybeans, soya, cheese or peas. All these foods are rich sources of protein.
  • Limit the amount of oil/fat you use when cooking. Too much oil/fat, especially if it is animal fat, may promote obesity and cardiovascular disease. Also avoid multiple cooking with the same oil.
  • Preserve your traditional cuisine and teach it to your children in order for them to appreciate and protect their health and food culture. Traditional foods are generally better for your health than highly processed products.
  • Check your weight and blood pressure regularly.

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