Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Dietary Guidelines: India gets to vote on food

July 30, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 29: How much salt, sugar, chilli, turmeric, ginger-garlic paste or garam masala is good for an average Indian if India has to be a healthy nation?
The Central government has taken up a massive exercise to revise the dietary guidelines for Indians after a gap of 10 years. And people themselves can decide what type and what quantity of food is good for themselves. The Centre has invited suggestions and comments on the dietary guidelines. A panel of health and nutrition experts will sit together and finalised the new guidelines based on the suggestions send in by people.
The Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition has taken up the task of revision of national dietary guidelines that were framed way back in 1998. Fresh guidelines have been necessitated in view of changed lifestyles of people leading to a spurt in lifestyle-linked non-infectious diseases.
"Nutrition plays a very important role in the development of human resource. Human resource is one of the strengths of any stronger nation. A healthy population can lead the nation better in all the frontiers like education, economics, agriculture, defence, medical and other sciences in the country. These dietary guidelines will enable the population to lead a healthy life," Dr D Raghunatha Rao, convener of
Dietary Guidelines Revision Committee, told this correspondent.
Present dietary guidelines stipulate that an average Indian should take 10 grams of salt every day. The recommendatory intake of salt may go up or down depending on the suggestions people send to the committee. However, there will not be any upward revision of the recommended overall calorie intake for Indians.

The updated guidelines will be circulated among different stake-holder communities including policy makers, UN agencies, academia, medical professionals and nutrition departments. Dr Kamala Krishnaswamy, former director of NIN, is the head of the dietary panel.
The recent NFHS-3 survey showed that there was no significant improvement in the nutritional status of the population as compared to the findings of NFHS-2.
Surveys carried out by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau provided more insight on the issues related to double burden of malnutrition such undernutrition on one hand and over nutrition that leads to obesity and other degenerative diseases on the other.
Some of the important issues of the nutrition guidelines include exclusive breast-feeding for up to six months and its continuation up to two years, introduction of food supplements for infants after six months, plenty use of green leafy vegetables, other vegetables and fruits and restricted use of cooking oils and animal foods.

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