Vanguard (Lagos)

21 August 2012

Nigeria: Heart Disease Prevention - NHF Promotes Healthy Nutrition

AS the war against cardiovascular disease deepens in all parts of the world, health and nutrition experts have identified the role of healthy nutrition in formulating the best and most cost effective strategy in winning the war against cardiovascular disease.

The experts comprising stakeholders in the food industry, gathered at a sensitization workshop organised by the Nigeria Heart Foundation NHF in collaboration with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, where the NHF's Heart Check Labelling Programme was promoted.

Chairman, NHF's Board of Trustees, Prof. Oladipo Akinkugbe, said the heart check idea was to help promote the health and socio economic well being of Nigerians, especially in prevention and control of heart diseases.

"Healthy nutrition is an important part of healthy lifestyle and awareness of healthy foods is a prerequisite for attainment of healthy nutrition. With this in mind NHF initiated the Heart Check Labelling Programme.

"When the Heart Check logo appears on any product or its packaging, this indicates NHF is satisfied the product complies with laid down nutritional standards based on NHF's heart check policy.

"The heart check food labelling logo provides incentives for shoppers to instantly identify products on the shelf that are heart friendly. Heart check labelling programme across the world develop community awareness on healthy foods and provides opportunity for healthy food choices," he added.

President of the NHF, Dr Kingsley Akinroye said the objective of the programme is to reduce the risk factors for non-communicable diseases that stem from unhealthy diets and also increase the overall awareness and understanding of making informed choices that influence diet and health.

"Food labelling has great potential to Influence food choices, assist the consumer in making healthy dietary selection thereby influencing consumers' ability to reduce intake of CVDs risk factors e.g total cholesterol, total saturated fat, high level of salt and low fibre."

Akinroye worried that NCDs would be responsible for more than 75 per cent of all deaths by 2030, adding that 33 million people died from NCDs in 2008 globally.

Prof. Olusola Omueti, Director Nutrition, NHF, in his presentation entitled: Role in Healthy Heart Nutrition" lamented the low level of awareness of Nigerians on heart health foods and recommended a strongly- built synergy among stakeholders.

He argued for promotion of healthy diets in accordance with national guidelines and international standards.

"Issue simple clear and consistent food labels that will help consumers to make informed and healthy choices," he added.

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