Your diet consists of what you usually eat and/or drink, as well as how you consume these foods and beverages. Increasingly, existing evidence is showing that many of the diseases and health problems of modern societies have their origin in our diets. The modern diet is characterised by excessively high amounts of sugar, salt, and fat. Incidentally, most processed foods are industrially preserved using sugar, salt or fat. Because of the increasing access and consumption of processed foods,
these ingredients are in almost all foods that we eat.
Scientific evidence has demonstrated that increased consumption of foods high in simple sugars, salt, and certain
types of fats increases our risk for diet-related chronic diseases. On the other hand, there is also strong evidence that a careful planning of your diet to limit consumption of sugar, salt and fats, while increasing consumption of foods rich in diverse nutrients can contribute to improving your health and wellbeing, as well as reducing your chance of becoming ill with diseases of dietary origin.
To enable persons living in Ghana to choose and eat a diet that enhances health and wellbeing, a National Food-Based Dietary Guideline (FBDG) has developed by the government as a tool to support adoption of healthier lifestyles. By design, a FBDG is written in simple easy to read language so that the ordinary healthy person can use the FBDG. FBDGs usually provide general advice on what constitutes a healthy diet for healthy persons in the population. The FBDG is not designed to treat diseases nor to address malnutrition. Rather, it is a tool for promoting optimal eating and for preventing nutrition problems.
A FBDG is intended for use by the entire healthy population. To be trustworthy, and to increase the likelihood that they resolve in better nutrition and health, it must be based on the best available scientific evidence. The evidence that is typically used for developing FBDGs include usual eating habits of the population, food availability, food affordability, and the evidence linking dietary habits with human health and wellbeing. Beyond these, FBDGs also serve as a guide and planning tool for government-led food policies and programs such as the school feeding program, and cash grant programs for vulnerable households.
For the first time ever, Ghana has developed a truly Food-Based Dietary Guideline for the population in Ghana at ages five years and above. In the past, the government had developed guidelines for young child feeding, as well as tools used by program managers and extension officers supervising government programs. These earlier documents were highly technical and were not designed to be used by the general population. Thus, the current FBDG fills an important gap by enabling the general population to take responsibility for making informed choices about their own diets.
Ghana’s new FBDG is timely, given the rapidly rising prevalence of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and several other diet-related non-communicable diseases. This national FBDG will also be helpful to address misinformation on foods and diets created by quacks who promote unsubstantiated and often, inaccurate information and claims. Such misinformation, whether deliberate or otherwise will only continue to misinform the population when there is lack of access to credible and validated, government-approved guidance on healthy diets. At the policy level, the absence of national FBDGs limits consistency and about the links between certain food products and nutrition and health outcomes coherence across government-led food-based initiatives. Thus, the current FBDG will contribute to