22 May | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

What you may know about nutrition-related issues, food-borne illnesses

‘Successful nutrition education often involves active public participation, awareness of nutrition problems, and willingness of communities to change’

When we talk about nutrition-related issues and food-borne illnesses, we must not neglect importance of nutrition education and its impacts on the overall health status of various communities. In Pakistan, the nutrition education is important because food choices have an impact on personal health, community well-being, and the environment. Dietary and physical activity patterns are not optimal for health until and unless people are aware of eating what would be nutritionally beneficial for them.

We must remember that undesirable food habits and nutrition-related practices, which are often based on insufficient knowledge, and traditions or poor understanding of the connection between diet and health, can adversely affect nutritional status. The nutritional problems broadly fall into two categories; the first is due to a lack of sufficient knowledge about food choices and the second one is due to the unavailability of nutritious food.

Even if people are aware of the importance of nutrition in their life, they are unable to obtain safe, and affordable food. Being more prevailing in rural areas, both these issues exhibit the need for nutrition education and provision of nutritious diets and better care for the most vulnerable groups. For the rich sector who usually have the basic knowledge of nutrition either from schools or may be social media, their nutrition education should be directed to proper food selection, consumption, and lifestyle.

‘Undesirable food habits and nutrition-related practices, which are often based on insufficient knowledge, and traditions or poor understanding of connection between diet and health, can adversely affect nutritional status’

We have to figure out here that how we can educate people regarding nutrition. On the other hand, the nutrition education is delivered to different groups using different approaches e.g., school-based nutrition programs, community nutritional camps, and mass media campaigns etc. These programs should focus on providing education to schoolchildren who are more prone to malnutrition due to lack of food and bad food choices affecting their optimal growth and development.

Children from an early age should know what right food choices are and how they are going to affect their health. It could be done by adding basic nutrition-related subjects to the curriculum or by arranging nutrition camps in various schools mainly focusing on rural areas. Secondly, educating mothers should be the center of attention of nutrition programs. As we know that mothers are backbone of a household and their choices affect generations, so educating mothers mean you are developing a healthy household.

The nutrition education provides mothers with correct information on the nutritional value of foods, quality, and safety, methods of preservation, processing, and handling, and preparation to help them make the best choice of foods. Other than that nutrition education should focus on increasing the diversity and quantity of food supplies. This can be achieved by providing information to people on methods of improving food production; crop selection and diversification; proper storage, preservation, and processing; conservation of nutrients during food preparation; and the prevention of food waste.

Successful nutrition education often involves the active participation of the people, their awareness of their nutrition problems, and their willingness to change. To be effective, a comprehensive nutrition education program also requires inter-sectoral collaboration among different professionals (agriculture, education, health, and communication) and should be based on a well-planned communication strategy.