Development of food-based dietary guidelines for the Asian region
Final report of the recommendations of the Asian Nutrition Forum/WHO Symposium on Diet Related Chronic Diseases in Asia
As the new millennium approaches, the nutritional scientists from Asian region considers this an opportune moment to take stock of the situation of the health and nutrition of the population of their region which comprises over half the worlds' population. It is crucial to recognize that the adequate and proper nutrition of the population of this region is a goal to be achieved since it is the foundation for the good health and well-being of the people and their development. Although, reportedly spectacular improvements in health occurred during this period viz, infant mortality have fallen, life expectancy has increased while several nutrition disorders such as beriberi and pellagra have virtually disappeared, but undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies of iron, iodine, vitamin A deficiency persists in many countries and pose challenges to health care. On the other hand, diet-related chronic non communicable diseases put a severe burden on health services and are already the leading cause death and disability in several countries of South-East Asia region. With increasing urbanization, changing dietary habits and changing lifestyles this alarming situation is bound to become even more severe in the years to come. It thus appears that countries of Asian region will have to carry dual burden of old problems which have not been eradicated while having deal with the new problems which are emerging. The challenge ahead is to devise strategies that will both ameliorate undernutrition due to poverty and prevent diet related chronic noncommunicable diseases. It is necessary now to take comprehensive and multifaceted preventive action based on scientific evidences in order to promote healthy nutrition for all.
Based on WHO/FAO dietary guidelines, Food Based Dietary Guideline (FBDG) is therefore recommended as part of this preventive strategies. FBDGs provide a frame work for advice on the selection and consumption of nutritionally adequate, safe, healthy and affordable diets and encourage healthy lifestyles. FBDGs have been recommended as the core dietary guidelines for national committees by the drafting committee, based on the scientific data presented at the symposium. Thus the committee was aware that the FBDGs will need to be developed at national levels within the region to take into account those diet related public health problems that predominate in their countries; and at the same time be culturally sensitive and take into consideration the traditional food practices, customs, cooking practices etc and with awareness of the needs of the target groups within these population.