Policy-makers call for healthier food environment

A report of the Ghana Healthy Food Environment Policy Index has urged the government to pass legislations to promote healthier food environment in schools and other child-laden settings.

The legislation, according to the report, should regulate the promotion, sponsorship, advertisement and sale of food and drink with added sugars, and other nutrients concern in print and electronic media and enforce it with fines.

Government should support nutrition advocates with financial support, knowledge and research development and capacity planning and implement a requirement for those involved in the School Feeding programme to pass a training course on healthy meal planning.

This came to light at a day’s workshop for stakeholders to discuss findings across both projects and what the implications are for policy, intervention and research going forward.

The report was an output of the Dietary Transitions in Ghanaian Cities Project with funding from the Drivers of Food Choice (DFC) Competitive Grants Programmes, which is being funded by the United Kingdom Government’s Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and managed by the University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health, USA.

The Project was led by Professor Michelle Holdsworth, a Nutrition Professor in the University of Sheffield with technical support from INFORMAS while Dr Amos Laar of the University of Ghana is the Country Lead.

In all, a total of 13 policy actions were identified and prioritised considering perceptions of their relative importance and achievability while a total of 14 infrastructure support actions were also identified and prioritised according to perceptions of their relative importance and achievability.

It said adoption of a mandatory labelling scheme that ensured that foods manufactured for both local and international markets were appropriately labelled and implementation of subsidies to increase the affordability of healthy foods, develop and implement a strategy to control illegal imports of unhealthy foods are classified under lower importance but achievable.

The Dietary Transitions in Ghanaian Cities sampled two communities – James Town in the Greater Accra region and Ho-Dome in the Volta region to find out dietary behaviours in Urban Ghana.

A similar project was conducted in Kenya.

The report stated that energy and macronutrient intakes in both countries were within the World Health Organisation recommended nutrient goal for preventing diet-related non-communicable diseases, but fat intakes were quite high (close to the upper limit of the recommended range).

Source: GNA

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