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Food & Nutrition Guidelinesfor Namibia Ministry of Health and Social ServicesWindhoek, Namibia, 2000The information contained in this booklet may be quoted freely, provided thatreference is made to the source. Three copies of the material/documentdeveloped using the information contained in this booklet should be sent totheMinistry of Health and Social ServicesAttention: Food and Nutrition UnitPrivate Bag 13198, Windhoek, NamibiaISBN0-86976-484-5Illustrations: Mel Futter

ForewordIn Namibia, a large portion of the population suffers from various forms ofmalnutrition as a consequence of an inadequate food intake. This not onlycauses individual suffering and hardship, but also places an enormous strainon the country’s economy that could be avoided.The Government of Namibia, in its commitment to alleviate the problems offood insecurity and malnutrition, therefore declared the period 1992-2002 asthe Food and Nutrition Decade and in 1995 developed a ‘Food Security andNutrition Policy for Namibia’ and a ‘Food Security and Nutrition Action Plan’.The objective of the Policy and Action Plan is the improvement of thenutritional status of the population. The National Food Security and NutritionCouncil and its Technical Committee are coordinating the implementation ofthe policy through the programmes outlined in the Action Plan. One of theprojects is the development of nutritional guidelines for Namibia.Alerted by the fact that there were no guidelines based on the Namibiansituation, and that ministries and organisations involved in nutrition educationwere using guidelines developed in various different countries, the NamibianHome Economics Advisory Board initiated the development of NamibianFood and Nutrition Guidelines.A working group composed of experts from several ministries and institutionsinvolved in food, nutrition and health was formed and endowed with the taskof analysing the data available for Namibia and to develop guidelines to forma solid basis for nutrition education work in our country.It is our honour and pleasure to herewith present the result of the work of theworking group, the ‘Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Namibia’. We sincerelyhope that these will be widely distributed and extensively utilised. It isparticularly in conjunction with a range of different educational programmesand materials that will now be developed on the basis of the ‘Food andNutrition Guidelines’, that the messages contained can reach all communitiesand contribute to the improvement of the nutritional situation in Namibia.Windhoek, 2000Dr K. ShangulaCHAIRMANNational Food Security and Nutrition Council1

AcknowledgementsThe ‘Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Namibia’ have been developed by amulti-disciplinary working group with valuable comments and contributionsfrom many experts in food, nutrition and health throughout Namibia. Themembers of the working group were:Mr M. Menjengua and Ms L. ShinaveneMinistry of Agriculture, Water and Rural DevelopmentMS E. RourkeMinistry of Basic Education and CultureMS J. N. Amadhila, MS P. Kaambo and Ms M. G. van WykMinistry of Health and Social ServicesDr R. Kandando, MS M.C. Keyterand Prof. T NgwiraUniversity of NamibiaMS L. von Krosigk (consultant), MS M. Löwik (project coordinator) andMr Y. MesfinFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)Dr T. BishawUnited Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)Dr J. JacobiWorld Health Organization (WHO)The development of the Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Namibia has beenmade possible through financial support from the Ministry of Health andSocial Services, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development,the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the UnitedNations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization.The FAO Country Office in Namibia and the Food and Nutrition Division ofFAO Headquarters are thanked for their administrative support and technicalassistance provided throughout the project. Particular thanks go to allnurses, teachers and agricultural extension officers for their constructivecomments and invaluable input during the pre-testing of the guidelines.2

IntroductionThe essential role of nutrition in the promotion and enhancement of theoverall quality and span of life is widely and well recognised. However, manyNamibians suffer from nutritional disorders that are due to an inadequate foodintake, both in terms of quality and quantity. These nutrition problems arerelated to diets1, which are monotonous, deficient in food energy and containfew foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals.On the other hand, there is a considerably large group of Namibians which,because of an excessive and imbalanced food intake, suffers from obesityand related chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and coronaryheart disease.However, nutritional deficiencies in an individual are not always due topoverty and a lack of foods necessary to maintain health. Many culturalpractices, eating habits, sanitation and hygienic practices result in the neglectof the most vulnerable members of a family, for instance infants, children,pregnant and lactating women and the elderly, or they affect the quality of foodwhich is consumed. In these situations there is an urgent need to create anawareness of nutritional needs, the different functions of the variouscategories of foods, the proper combination of foods and their appropriatepreparation and use. This awareness can be created by nutrition educationand communication.The guidelines provided in this booklet can play an important role in this effort.They should be used by professionals in nutrition education countrywide todesign educational materials and programmes that contain correct,appropriate and consistent information. In this way, the impact of nutritioneducation and communication can be more widely felt.What are ‘Food and Nutrition Guidelines’?The ‘Food and Nutrition Guidelines’ contained here are statements of adviceto the general population about healthy food choices. If this advice regardingdiet in general is followed, then diet will contribute to a healthy lifestyle, whichin turn helps to reduce the risk of developing any of the various diet-relateddiseases.3

The guidelines aim to help people to develop and practise healthy eatinghabits. They are based upon current scientific knowledge and the best publichealth advice available at present. They contain up-to-date data on therelationship between diet and disease, nutrients available in the Namibianfood supply, dietary habits, and the profile of morbidity and mortality inNamibia.The ‘Food and Nutrition Guidelines’ apply to the total diet, and it is notappropriate to use them to assess the ‘healthiness’ of individual food items.Similarly, the ‘Food and Nutrition Guidelines’ are designed for considerationas a coherent set of advice or information, and the individual guidelinescannot be considered in isolation.Objective of the ‘Food and Nutrition Guidelines’The objective of the ‘Food and Nutrition Guidelines’ is to promote a healthylifestyle and a healthful diet. A healthful diet contains the amounts ofessential nutrients and food energy needed to prevent nutritionaldeficiencies and excesses. The ‘Food and Nutrition Guidelines’ thereforepromote the consumption of culturally acceptable healthy foods of a widevariety. Healthy diets help to correct bad eating habits and reinforce goodeating habits which help to maintain good health.Tarqet aroups of the ‘Food and Nutrition Guidelines’The ‘Food and Nutrition Guidelines’ were developed for use by all Namibians.The recommendations are not appropriate for children below the age of twoyears, or for groups with special nutritional needs. However, healthprofessionals can largely build on the principles contained in the guidelineswhen developing specific diets for groups with special needs. For example,some modification of these guidelines will be needed for groups such asinfants and young children, pregnant and lactating women, people withspecial nutrient or food requirements, and those with acute or chronicillnesses.1The terms 'diet' and ‘dietary’ as used throughout this booklet, refer to any individual’s usual pattern of foodintake from day to day. ‘Diet’ and ‘dietary’ do not imply a specific diet recommended for medical purposesor aesthetic reasons (for example, a slimming diet).4

How to use the ‘Food and Nutrition Guidelines’Nutrition as a science is complex and to communicate the informationavailable on the subject, more background material and explanation isrequired than can be given in brief statements. The ‘Food and NutritionGuidelines’ as contained in this booklet are guidelines for healthy eating, butin order to use them as a practical tool for the individual and to achieve theirultimate goal, supporting educational programmes are also needed.Professionals in the health, education, agriculture and other related sectorsare therefore invited to develop more complete education programmes andmaterials tailored to the needs of the population groups they serve, based onthe contents of this booklet. In developing any new materials, the particularnutritional needs of specific population groups, as well as cultural differencesin food choice, should always be borne in mind.What is a ‘Food Guide’?To make the written statements contained in this booklet more practicallyuseful and in order to make the dietary recommendations visual, the ‘Foodand Nutrition Guidelines’ are complemented by a ‘Food Guide’. The ‘FoodGuide’ is meant to assist the reader in selecting foods which make up ahealthy diet. The ‘Food Guide’ can also be used as a practical guide for mealplanning. It contains an outline of possible daily food choices, based onNamibian dietary patterns and taking into account the nutrient content ofthese foods.The ‘Food Guide’ promotes the eating of a variety of foods from each of thefour food groups. The size of the groups depicted indicates the suggestedproportions of these food groups in the total diet and also shows what foodsare needed most.5

FOOD GUIDE for NAMIBIAFood & Nutrition Guidelines for NamibiaEat a variety of foodsUse only iodised salt,but use less saltEat vegetables and fruitevery dayEat more fishEat beans or meat regularlyUse whole-grain products6.Eat at least threemeals a dayAvoid drinking alcoholConsume clean and safewater and foodAchieve and maintain ahealthy body weight

Eat a varietv of foodsIn Namibia many people sufferfrom malnutrition because of monotonous andinappropriate diets. Overweight and obesity are often caused by excessivefood energy intake and a diet that is not balanced. Eating a varied diet canensure that all the nutrients and other substances needed for good health areconsumed. Foods contain combinations of nutrients and other healthfulsubstances, but no single food can supply all the nutrients in the amountsneeded.Ideally, a diet should be composed of foods from all four food groups shown inthe ‘Food Guide’ (see p. 6) every day and in the proportions indicated by thesize of the individual group. The ‘Food Guide’ shows that foods from the grainproducts group, along with vegetables and fruits, are the basis of healthydiets.Many combinations of foods from the four food groups can form the base of ahealthy and nutritious eating pattern. By choosing a variety of foods withinand across food groups, dietary patterns can be improved, because foodswithin the same group have different combinations of nutrients and otherbeneficial substances. Choosing a variety of foods within each group alsohelps to make meals more interesting from day to day.7

Eat vegetables and fruit every dayMicronutrient deficiencies, such as anaemia, nightblindness and pellagra,are common in Namibia. Vegetables and fruits can help to prevent most ofthese deficiencies because they are rich in vitamins (especially A and C) andminerals. Vegetables and fruits also contain substantial amounts of fibre andare low in fat. Eating vegetables and fruits daily is therefore recommended,because of the beneficial role these foods play in reducing the risk of cancerand other chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease.In Namibia, it is particularly important to promote the daily consumption ofsufficient amounts of vegetables and fruits, including the whole group of veldfruits, as fruits and vegetables are eaten only rarely in some regions of thecountry.The amount of vitamins and minerals available in vegetables and fruitsdepends on the way these foods are prepared. The vitamin and mineralcontent is substantially reduced when vegetables are cooked for too long andin too much water.8

Eat more fishFish is useful in many ways as part of a healthy diet. Fish is well known as agood source of a high concentration of good-quality protein. The regularconsumption of fish can therefore help to prevent malnutrition. The fat contentof fish is variable, but in general, fish contains less fat than meat. High-fat fish,like most vegetable oils and nuts, is a good source of polyunsaturated fattyacids, which seem to give protection against coronary heart disease. Fish isalso a good source of vitamins, particularly A and D, and minerals such as ironand iodine. (Only seafish contain iodine.)Namibia is a country with large fish resources, mainly from the ocean but alsofrom rivers and oshanas. Fish could and should become a more common partof the Namibian diet.9

Eat beans or meat regularlyMeat and beans are good sources of protein, iron and B-vitamins. In thisbooklet, ‘meat’ refers to the whole group of meats (beef and pork, but alsogame, poultry and fish), and ‘beans’ stands for the whole group of legumes(including beans, groundnuts, lentils and peas). Anaemia has beenobserved in specific population groups such as pregnant and lactatingwomen. These women should make sure that they eat iron-rich foodsregularly. There is a high rate of undernutrition among children and it isadvis

the Food and Nutrition Decade and in 1995 developed a ‘Food Security and Nutrition Policy for Namibia’ and a ‘Food Security and Nutrition Action Plan’. The objective of the Policy and Action Plan is the improvement of the nutritional status of the population. The National Food Security and Nutrition

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