World food day 2019: Eating healthy is as important as eating enough

The theme of this year’s World Food Day is “Our Actions Are Our Future, Healthy Diets for A #ZeroHunger World.”

Myupchar October 16, 2019 07:30:23 IST
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World food day 2019: Eating healthy is as important as eating enough
  • The theme of this year's World Food Day is "Our Actions Are Our Future, Healthy Diets for A #ZeroHunger World."

  • Malnutrition spans every aspect of nutrition including undernutrition, inadequate vitamins and minerals, obesity, overweight and NCDs that can be caused due to unhealthy food habits

  • Data from a 2018 study suggest that around 5.7 - 8.8% of schoolgoing children in India are obese

Today, on October 16, the world observes the annual Food Day in honour of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The international authority was set up on this day in the year 1945 to end world hunger.

The theme of this year’s World Food Day is “Our Actions Are Our Future, Healthy Diets for A #ZeroHunger World.” With the theme, the FAO aims to bring one of the major health issues to the table: Malnutrition.

World food day 2019 Eating healthy is as important as eating enough

Representational image.
Image source: Getty Images

Malnutrition is often confused with undernourishment and hunger. But it spans every aspect of nutrition including undernutrition, inadequate vitamins and minerals, obesity, overweight and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that can be caused due to unhealthy food habits. Examples of such NCDs are diabetes, heart diseases, and stroke.

The brochure released by FAO to share this year's goals explained that currently the world is not just undernourished, it is malnourished. The brochure read, “Food security in our times isn’t only a matter of quantity, it’s also a question of quality. Unhealthy diets have now become a leading risk factor for disease and death worldwide.”

The increasing trend of NCDs in India

According to the FAO data, undernourishment in India has decreased from 20.7% in 2005-07 to 14.8% in 2015-17. However, now, it suffers from the double burden of malnutrition. While a major part of the population now gets more food to eat, they still lack the essential nutrients needed for proper growth and development. Over time, an unhealthy diet, poor lifestyle and lack of physical activity have perpetuated obesity and overweight issues.

Data from a 2018 study suggest that around 5.7 - 8.8% of schoolgoing children in India are obese. Obesity is one of the major risk factors for the most common NCDs. As a result, the diseases that were once seen only in adults are now observed in children under the age of 10.

Estimates from the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey 2016-18 show that about 1% of school-going children are now diabetic, around 7% are at risk of chronic kidney disease and about 3% are living with high cholesterol. Additionally, children in West Bengal and Sikkim were found to be at risk of all of these NCDs and at very high rates. The state of Uttar Pradesh sees the most cases of hypertension in children.

Things that you can do to eat healthier

Preventing lifestyle diseases is as easy as switching to a healthy diet. Though most people don’t know where to start. On their twitter account, the FAO listed the following changes you can easily make:

  • Whenever possible, cook and eat at home.
  • Add more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts in your diet.
  • Don’t forget to read the food labels.
  • Cut back on sugar, unhealthy fats and salt.
  • Swap refined ‘white’ options with healthier ‘brown’ options.
  • Add healthy fats in your diet - unsaturated fats.
  • Exercise for at least half an hour every day.

Here are certain things that you can do to make your child eat healthily:

  • Add as many colours to their plate as possible.
  • Include them in fun cooking activities, make a sandwich with them or introduce them to kitchen gardening.
  • Cook healthy foods in more palatable forms that they would like instead of the plain old boiled.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, read our article on Malnutrition: Risk Factors, Prevention, Treatment.

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