A campaign promoting the consumption of healthy, local food to address the high rate of obesity and the prevalence of diseases in the country by the Seychelles’ health department starts this week.
“It is important for us to choose local products, especially in this situation where we already have a high obesity rate in the country,” Stephanie Desnousse, the principal nutritionist at the Health Care Agency, told a news conference.
Desnousse said that non-communicable diseases, which are related to obesity, are also high and the campaign is an opportune time to address these problems.
She said that the agency is finalising a national guide for Seychelles which addresses food products that the population is consuming. The guide will be launched towards the end of the campaign to complement the promotion of healthy and fresh local products.
Done in partnership with the Ministries of Education and Agriculture, the campaign will be done through a series of videos on different platforms.
“Through the videos, we will give examples on how to prepare a snack box for someone to go to work with or for a child to take to school, how we can use local spices in our food rather than using imported ones. We will also give recipe ideas for lunch and dinner, all of which can be prepared at home,” said Juddy Jean-Baptiste, senior policy analyst for food and nutrition at the Health Care Agency.
“There will also be a documentary where we will talk about healthy eating in general in relation to local product. It is not because we are facing the COVID-19 pandemic that we are asking people to eat healthy foods. There have been other campaigns in the past that has stayed in the head of people for many years even after the campaigns came to an end,” she continued.
Another partner on the campaign is the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, which will focus on the training of tuckshop operators in schools.
The health promotion coordinator at the Ministry, Brigitte Labonte, said that the training is like a refresher course to reinforce the importance of promoting healthy eating at schools.
“Following visits that we have carried out since the start of this school term, we have seen that tuckshop operators are struggling a lot in terms of the quality of products and the cost. We are looking to see if a partnership with the farmers’ association can be established so that we can propose more affordable local products that are sustainable during and after COVID-19,” said Labonte.
The Ministry of Education hopes that this will help children better appreciate local food.
The campaign comes at a time when the Ministry of Agriculture is working closely with farmers and fishermen to ensure that these products are available for local consumption.
There are also ongoing works on adding value to these products, making their shelf life longer. The agriculture ministry is also promoting the cultivation of home gardens, which will help in ensuring food security in the country.