Healthy diet dimensions

Published: March 06, 2019 21:56:22 | Updated: March 08, 2019 22:06:02

So far the food-related priorities have been focused  on  self-sufficiency in  cereal production and combating food adulteration. The first is a production issue, and the second a matter of governance. In terms of autarky and getting the   food basket fuller with new edibles, the success has been remarkable. As regards  tackling   adulteration -- of a wide spectrum of foods, even medicines -- the standardisation, inspection and law  enforcement failures have  stewed in the  juice of  profiteering lacing  a sellers' market and  weak consumer resistance. Unclean kitchen markets, littered  rotting  vegetables and  unhygienic food processing centres are optic and sanitary sore points. So long less prioritised, they are just  beginning to be recognised in research papers.

Beyond  food self-sufficiency, victual toxicity and wasteful storage, deeper thoughts are being given to healthy  diet. There are  institutional, systemic,  attitudinal, habit-forming issues associated with affordability of  and  access  to healthy foods. Sophisticated  differences between  food and diet, both conceptually and consumption-wise, are occurring  based on normative values. Food we eat almost by reflex and instinctively but diet is a  normative concept  people of all ages and economic standing are called upon to adapt to  as a matter of healthy  life-style. So, what  constitutes good, healthy food synonymous with  safe and life-sustaining diets  have  changed over time. All that is at macro level by way of setting, hopefully not imposing, some well-researched and documented universal templates. For  instance, experts have come to lay stress on strong and coordinated governance of land and oceans  to ensure sustainable use of natural endowments like the land and water. Even they strongly recommend  imposing penalty taxes on unhealthy diets and subsidies on  healthy foods. Implementation of these templates require, among other things, commitments, dedicated workforce, basic infrastructure at the national level. Taking to safe diet  with a shift in habit  must begin at home; educational  curricula  dinning the right messages into  the ears  of the  children through their adolescence  would help reinforce the transformative process of which the transitional phase happens to be the most vital one.

Let the attention be now focused on the country level. Here one comes across the brass tacks. FAO, Bangladesh's senior nutritionist Lalita Bhattacharjee informs that in Bangladesh, the contribution of  carbohydrates is 17 per cent, followed by poor quality  protein, micronutrients  at 60 per cent and  vegetable at  50 per cent. With milk consumption at one-fourth (of the requirement), the nutritional  status is  direly compromised. Actually, the abundance of food grains has  not been  an unalloyed  blessing. For, dietary diversity is low with high concentration on rice. As if that was not enough of a dietary imbalance, high-sugar, high-salt foods and fats do not only cause obesity but also induce other life-long diseases. Likewise, consumption of processed food is an antonym for healthy diet as it is full of artificial preservatives. So areas can be clearly delineated to work on and  bring about the desired  salubrious turn-around in daily  diets of the people.

Simultaneous  with  the course of action as suggested above, the authorities  need to enforce a thrust on strict enforcement of laws in order to ensure safe food. There is a raft of them to be used: Safe Food Act, 2013, Consumers' Right Protection Act, 2009, and Fish Feed and Animal Feed Acts, 2010. If supply of pure and safe foods  is to be ensured to the common people, there is no alternative  to a scrupulous enforcement of  such laws.

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