The number of people who drink full cream milk, add large amounts of sugar to their tea or coffee and do not remove visible fat and skin off chicken before cooking is still too high and people need to be made aware of health risks associated with such practices through more health education, a recent study has found.
The National Survey of Non-communicable Diseases in Seychelles 2013-2014 published recently found that the number of people drinking full cream milk which is high in fat instead of semi-skimmed or skimmed milk with lower fat content, does not differ according to their social economic status and the same applies for people who add a lot of sugar to their tea or coffee.
The study says that sugar is an important source of calorie intake which contributes to obesity thus the need for stronger campaigns to encourage people to consume less sugar and unsaturated fat from meat.
There is also a need to design policies and introduce programmes to improve nutrition value and health benefits of take-away meals as 30.7% of people have their lunch from take-aways, shops or canteens.
Meanwhile the study has found that the consumption of olive oil, which is a healthy oil rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids, is unexpectedly high among the population thus reflecting health consciousness, the result of health programmes and recent decrease in the price of olive oils.
Nevertheless consumption of olive oil is remarkably higher among people with higher social economic status, again reflecting a cost issue and better health awareness as well.
With regard to salt intake more people are cutting down on salt but more women are than men, older generation than the youth and among people with higher social economic status.
As the study found that people read food labels mostly to know the expiry dates but not to know the sugar and salt content, there is a need to educate people more on the importance of knowing food content.
Meanwhile the number of people taking vitamins is high and this has been associated with more health concerns but yet there is no medical reasons for healthy people having a proper diet to take vitamin supplements as these have been associated with adverse health effects in many studies.
The intake of fresh and processed meat, potatoes, potato chips and pasta are still low, consumption of poultry is more frequent and the intake of salted and sweet snacks is substantial.
The current dietary habits also include the frequent consumption of bread, eggs, vegetables, fruit, lentils, breakfast cereals, and cheese but the data does not provide information on portion sizes. It also includes substantial intake of nutrient poor and energy rich food items such as soft drinks, juice drinks, salted and sweet snacks and these contribute to cardiovascular diseases and fuel the high prevalence in obesity.
There is a need therefore to sustain health education campaigns with emphasis on five portions of fresh fruits and vegetables daily, lots of water, fresh fruit juices and semi-skimmed milk as well as exercise.