On Thursday, 6 October, the Nurture the Future project team, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, held the thematic workshop “Good Nutrition Practices in Brazil, Colombia and Peru” and the international seminar “Recommendations for production, supply and consumption of fruits and vegetables” during the largest nutrition event in Latin America, the XXVII Brazilian Nutrition Congress – CONBRAN. The event took place between 4 and 7 October in Maceió, Alagoas, and had about 2,000 participants. The project is the result of a partnership between the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger in Brazil, the Ministry of Health and the Brazilian Cooperation Agency.
In addition to these activities, the project was also highlighted in the joint booth with the Ministry of Health, which presented to the participants information related to the Nurture the Future project, joint publications, as well as materials from the Ministry of Health that encourage healthy and nutritious eating habits and promote good practices as a form of health promotion and collective well-being, as the Food Guide for the Brazilian Population.
During the workshop, good practices in food and nutrition were presented by representatives of the governments of Peru and Colombia, countries facing the multiple burden of malnutrition, or the simultaneous presence of malnutrition and overweight in the population. According to Elisa María Cadena, Deputy Director of Nutritional Health, Food and Beverages of the Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Protection, the cycle of malnutrition can begin in pregnancy and accompany the individual for a lifetime.
In Colombia, 42% of pregnant women are overweight, the prevalence of anaemia in babies between six and 11 months in the country is 62.5%, while overweight is a reality for 56.5% of the adult population. Among the actions to address and prevent malnutrition carried out by the country are the protection and promotion of exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months; activities aimed at adequate nutrition in early childhood; school feeding programmes; regulation of sodium and trans fat content in food.
In the case of Peru, there is a prevalence of chronic malnutrition, according to the reference established by the World Health Organization, in children under five years of age, and 36.9% of the population over 15 years of age has a prevalence of overweight. Some of the strategies adopted to reduce malnutrition were social mobilization, through informative and educational sessions and community surveillance. In addition, according to Beatriz Quispe, from the Health Promotion Directorate of the Peruvian Ministry of Health, the Food Truck Tempero de Ferro project is an initiative that brings iron-rich food to various locations in the country.
Representing Brazil, the Health Departments of Pernambuco, Minas Gerais and the Federal District also presented successful cases of good practices in nutrition and healthy eating at the local level. “The national food and nutrition policy establishes the responsibility of the states and the Federal District to implement this policy within their territory, through the necessary adjustments. So, national policy itself already establishes how important it is to develop local policies,” said Carolina Gama, nutritionist and nutrition services manager for the Federal District Health Department.
The international seminar discussed strategies for prevention and control of the multiple burden of malnutrition in Brazil, Colombia and Peru, in addition to presenting materials produced jointly by the project, in particular the document Recommendations for the Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables. The debate also had the participation of technicians from the Ministries of Health of the three countries and the representative of WFP in Panama in the area of nutrition, Diana Murillo, to share experiences of each country.
According to analyses by the Global Burden of Disease, poor diet is the risk factor that most contributes to mortality and the second largest factor that most contributed to the years of life lost, overcoming the effect of alcohol, drugs, smoking and sedentary lifestyle. For Ana Maria Maya, consultant at the Food and Nutrition Coordination of the Ministry of Health, “when we look at this worrying scenario, the need to build policies, programmes and activities in the health sector is reinforced, which must be implemented intersectorally and integrated to address the determinants of this health and nutrition problem”.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, despite advances in recent years, the region still faces challenges related to malnutrition and 9.8 million people suffer from severe food insecurity in the region today. For Diana Murillo, WFP nutritionist in Panama, it is necessary to invest in research to design effective public policies, in addition to promoting intersectoral solutions within the national contexts of each country to change this scenario.
Learn more about the Nurture the Future project and access the publications here.