HEALTH and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa has advised Zimbabweans to reduce their intake of sugar and fatty foods to prevent the scourge of non-communicable diseases (NCD), which have become the leading cause of death worldwide.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), non-communicable or chronic — diseases are diseases of long duration and generally slow progression. The four main types of non communicable diseases are cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma and diabetes. NCDs are lifestyle-related and the global health body links close to 60 percent of annual deaths, about 36 million, to these. Some 80 percent of all NCD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, says WHO.
Dr Parirenyatwa stressed the importance of developing healthy eating habits during an event to launch the United Refineries Limited (URL) fortification programme in Bulawayo last week. He said Government, working closely with the private sector, was forging ahead with the food fortification drive to enhance household nutrition across the country. Basic consumer products have been classified under the mandatory fortification programme.
“As much as we are now fortifying cooking oil, sugar and maize meal, it means people should change the way they eat. We encourage little intake of cooking oil, fatty foods, sugar and sugary foods as a way to prevent conditions such as obesity, heart conditions, cardiovascular diseases and other NCDs,” said Dr Parirenyatwa in a speech read on his behalf by Matabeleland South Provincial Medical Director, Dr Rudo Chikodzore.
“So to the public I say, you do not need to consume more sugar or cooking oil because it is fortified. We have added vitamins and minerals yes, and eating these foods in small amount will still give you the right amount of vitamins and minerals your body requires.”
Dr Parirenyatwa applauded United Refineries Limited for being one of the few companies in the country to champion food fortification. The country commenced mandatory phase of food fortification in July 2017, guided by the legislation gazetted by Government the previous year. “Well done United Refineries and I encourage you to do more, ensure every bottle of cooking oil that goes to each home has adequate vitamin A and D. That way we will ensure Zimbabweans’ good health and smart futures,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
Food fortification intervention was informed by concerns that a micro-nutrient deficiency was impairing children’s intellectual growth. Also as a consequence of micro-nutrient deficiencies such as iron deficiency, nearly 1,5 million working age adults suffer deficits in work performance.