The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer
No. 830 • September 24, 2010
SKN Observer
Ministry of Health Launches National Food-Based Dietary Guidelines
By Teshell Samuel


Poster depicting the seven necessary food groups for a balanced diet within a sugar mill.
The St. Kitts-Nevis Ministry of Health has revealed a list of recommendations for the daily diets of citizens within the twin-island Federation.

During an official launch held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort on the morning of Wednesday, September 22, the Ministry unveiled eight National Food-Based Dietary Guidelines, to be used to govern healthier eating habits and lifestyles in the country.

Together with representatives from collaborating organizations, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI), for over 18 months the Ministry worked through what was described as “rocky avenues” to develop suitable dietary standards.

According to Dr. Pauline Samuda, a consultant for the FAO, all eight of the guidelines that were unveiled during the official launch event are unique to St. Kitts and Nevis, and are meant to impact specific national goals.

“The dietary guidelines that were revealed here today are not from the United Kingdom, the U.S., Japan, Canada, or China. Neither are they from our neighbors in the region who have developed their own; they are from St. Kitts and Nevis, and are based on the health situation in the Federation. Importantly, representatives of the population within the Federation have had input in the development of these guidelines,” she said.

The high and growing instances of chronic illnesses within St. Kitts-Nevis, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cancer, and physical inabilities, which have all been linked to dietary practices, were amongst issues that helped to shape the newly-launched guidelines. It is the Ministry’s expressed hope that the correct usage of these standards will see a significant reduction in the occurrences of the noted illnesses in the years to come.

Dr. Norgen Wilson, who delivered the address of support and endorsement on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister the Hon. Sam Condor, said that the launch of the National Food-Based Dietary Guidelines came in a timely manner, on the heels of the nation’s 27th Independence celebration. He made the connection that if St. Kitts-Nevis was to “Strengthen Families for Positive Nation Building,” the theme for this year’s celebration, that attention must be paid to the health of its citizens.

“CARICOM leaders several years ago endorsed the principle work in recognition that the wealth of a nation depended on the health of its people. Therefore, it has to be reiterated that one of the fundamental necessities of a productive life and nation has to do with good dietary practices and physical fitness.

“As a consequence, the government stands fully in support of the establishment of the National Food-Based Dietary Guidelines that presents to us all the basic and critical necessities that should be followed in the consumption of meals on a regular basis,” he said.

The official launch marked the initiation of efforts to promote the Guidelines within the Federation. Two of the ways in which this promotion will proceed are: 1) the hanging of posters depicting the seven necessary food groups for a balanced diet within a sugar mill, rather than the usual triangle; and 2) the use of a jingle composed by three-peat Calypso King, Konris Maynard.

The National Food-Based Dietary Guidelines for St. Kitts and Nevis are as follows:

· Every day, choose foods from each of the groups shown in the sugar mill graphic.

· Limit the use of foods and drinks with added salt and sugar.

· Use less fats and oils when preparing and cooking foods.

· Eat different types of fruits each day.

· Eat a variety of vegetables daily.

· Use less salty and processed foods.

· If alcohol is consumed, do so sparingly.

· Be physically active by exercising for at least 30 minutes each day.
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