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Food Based Dietary Guidelines for Belizeans

What you weighed yourself lately? Have you been eating healthy or exercising daily? If you haven’t well its time you do so! But why, you might ask. Well did you know that more than 60% of the adult population in Belize is over weight?! That’s right and because of that the Ministry of Health has recently released a dietary guideline as a preventative approach for good nutrition practices.

At the recent launch of the booklet which was put together by the Ministry of Health and the Food and Agriculture Orgaization, Dr. Peter Allen, CEO of the Ministry of Health stated that more than 60% of the adult population is either overweight or clinically obese. He continued by stating that Chronic health challenges resulting from this fact are devastating families and communities across the country and that this is definitely preventable and that the solution lies in proper diet and a more active lifestyle.

The booklet is a user-friendly guide that provides advice on simple changes that can make a big difference in the health of the population. The guidelines are a combination of the science of good nutrition and health.

The Guidelines include a culturally-based graphic presentation depicting a Food Basket and showcases the distribution of food groups that should be included in daily diets and eight specific guidelines. The guidelines are:
• Choose different types of food from all food groups daily
• Eat more of different types of local fruits daily
• Eat more vegetables daily. Choose different types
• Choose to eat more natural and ground foods everyday
• Limit your intake of fats, sugar and salt
• Use unprocessed seasonings in food preparation and cooking (natural seasonings such as cilantro, oregano, herbal spices, and things that you can readily plant and readily have available rather than processed seasoning)
• Practice good hygiene when buying, storing, preparing and cooking foods
• Keep active. Make physical activity a part of your daily routine

Belize faces several nutritional problems including high intake of fatty, sugary and salty foods among the population, unbalanced diets and poor food choices. Overweight and obesity, high morbidity and mortality rate due to no communicable diseases, poor food safety practices and lack if reduced physical activity.

The development of the Food-based dietary guidelines started with multi-sectoral workshops as far back as 2009. The Food and Agriculture Organization became involved in the process at the end of 2010 to provide technical assistance. These Guidelines will be used to assist Belizeans in improving health and nutrition practices and provide practical advice appropriate for local customs, dietary patterns, economic conditions and lifestyles.

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