Health Days 2011

World Food Day
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations celebrates World Food Day (WFD) each year on 16 October, the day on which the Organization was founded in 1945.
 “FOOD PRICES – FROM CRISIS TO STABILITY” has been chosen as this year’s World Food Day theme to shed some light on this trend and what can be done to mitigate its impact on the most vulnerable.
On World Food Day 2011, let us look seriously at what causes swings in food prices, and do what needs to be done to reduce their impact on the weakest members of global society.
At the local level, the crisis of rising food prices cast a shadow on Saudi citizens, for that, the Ministry of Health Joins the international community in this occasion through shed light on many of procedures which are useful for raising awareness to reduce the potential health damage caused by this crisis on Saudi families.
International Date: 16/10/2011
Local Date: 18/11/1432 H
Theme of the World Food Day:
"Food Prices – From Crisis to Stability"
Targeted Categories:
  • All governments in the world.
  • Non-governmental organizations.
  • Parents and all family members.
  • Low-income families.
  • Workers in the social work institutions relevant to the social status of families.
  • Workers in the field of health awareness and guidance.
General Objectives and Mission of the World Food Day:
  • To heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world.
  • To encourage attention to agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental efforts to this end.
  • To promote the transfer of technologies to the developing world.
  • To enhance international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty and draw attention to achievements in food and agricultural development.
  • To encourage the participation of rural people, particularly women and the least privileged categories, in decisions and activities influencing their living conditions.
  • To encourage economic and technical cooperation among developing countries.
Objectives of the World Food Day at the Local Level:
  • To develop realistic solutions to adapt to these global changes.
  • To heighten public awareness of these global crises to reduce the panic and fear.
  • To educate members of the community and urged them to take advantage - as much as possible - from this crisis in improving the consumption pattern and lifestyle.
  • To reduce health problems related to this crisis, especially for malnutrition.
Logo of the World Food Day:
 world food day.png
Related Links:
- World Health Organization (WHO).
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Scientific Material
In today's world, there is enough food for everyone to have the nourishment necessary for a healthy and productive life, but food prices are still rising in global markets, because of economic and political constraints that happened in both producing and importing countries, which deprive many people in the world of the right to obtain healthy food throughout the year, and cause the emergence of diseases. Increase in food prices has pushed about 44 million people fall into poverty according to World Bank estimates, and reports of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
What is the reason behind the rise in food prices?
The main reason the prices jumped to more than double is due to a series of disturbances related to agricultural production and lack of its stability and failure to provide adequate food, where the global food system today lives outside the potential, it is working on the consumption of resources more quickly than for nature to create them.
This system should be adapting itself until it reaches the limit of sustainability. There is also an urgent need to make major changes in food system and related areas, such as uses of water and energy and adaptation to climate change, which is the fundamental reason for raising prices. The system must also address the issue of increasing oil prices, which would cause to increase the cost of transportation of animal feed which in turn leads to increase in the prices of products and commodities such as meat, vegetables and fruit.
What are the international solutions?
Food price volatility is one of the most important issues on the agendas of international humanitarian organizations as they are working on the following:
  • (Providing Food First), through moves that support take steps to help countries and individuals affected by the high prices on access to food, and setting an international forum that will help to stabilize prices; and improving risk management.
  • Reducing the wastage of food to half by the year 2050; thereby reducing the amount of food required by a quarter. FAO report highlights that at least 30% (50% in some estimates) of cultivated food crops cultivated are lost or damaged before or after they reach the consumer.
  • Reducing trade restrictions that adversely affect the interests of poor countries and increase price volatility, as happened when sudden dramatic spikes in food prices in 2007-2008 that drove nearly 100 million additional people into hunger.Implementing the new Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).
  • Advocacy for more investment in agricultural research, and for its improved effectiveness
  • Monitoring agricultural trade to identify potential food shortages
  • Coordinating with UN agencies through the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis and with Non-Governmental Organizations.
  • The World Bank Group also supports wider measures to improve nutrition among vulnerable groups.
Is the situation temporary?
World Bank predicts that food prices will remain high until 2015.
What is the impact of this crisis in the communities?
In the poorest countries, where people spend up to two-thirds of their daily income on food, rising prices are re-emerging as a threat to global growth and social stability. According to estimates by the World Bank, there are nearly one billion hungry people worldwide. More than 60 percent of the world’s hungry are women.
The effects of high prices are summarized in the following points:
When poor or middle-class families are facing high food prices, they would:
  • Eating less and substitute away from more expensive, nutritious food and into cheaper staples.
  • Refraining from the use of essential services such as health and education services, or reducing them.
  • Reducing the amount of food intake.
  • Malnutrition leads to reduction of learning ability and work productivity, and increasing the rate deaths. A third of all deaths in children under the age of five in developing countries are linked to undernutrition. Today one in nearly six people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. Hunger and malnutrition are in fact the number one risk to the health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
The most affected groups are:
  • Infants under the age of two years.
  • Children and adolescents.
  • Pregnant women and nursing mothers.
What do we mean by malnutrition?
Malnutrition takes three forms, including:

1. Malnutrition

Malnutrition means 'badly nourished', but is more than a measure of what we eat or fail to eat. Malnutrition is characterized by inadequate intake of protein, energy and micronutrients and by frequent infections and diseases. Starved of the right nutrition, people will die from common infections like measles or diarrhoea.

Malnutrition is measured not by how much food is eaten but by physical measurements of the body - weight or height - and age and laboratory analysis of blood.

2. Undernourishment:

Under-nourishment is used to describe the status of people whose food intake does not include enough calories (energy) to meet minimum physiological needs for an active life. At present, there are 1.02 billion undernourished people worldwide, most of them in developing countries.

3. Unbalanced Malnutrition:

Unbalanced Malnutrition is the nutrition that is where eating certain types of foods most of the other such as carbohydrates or fat, leading to the emergence of chronic diseases, including obesity and heart disease.
What are the effects of malnutrition?
Malnutrition covers a range of problems, such as being dangerously thin, being too short for one's age, being deficient in vitamins and minerals (such as lacking iron which makes you anaemic), or even being too fat (obese).
Micronutrient - vitamin and mineral - deficiencies are very important, afflicting nearly two billion people worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, deficiencies of iron, vitamin A, and zinc rank among the top ten leading causes of death through disease in developing countries.
Iron deficiency is the most prevalent form of malnutrition, affecting billions of people worldwide. Iron deficiency damages a country's productivity and impedes cognitive development. Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of child blindness across developing countries. Millions children are born mentally impaired because their mothers did not consume enough iodine during pregnancy. Zinc deficiency contributes to growth failure and weakened immunity in young children; it results may lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children per year.
At the Local Level:
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the largest food importers, and the Saudi society is reckoned a consumer society. Consequently, a number of diseases associated with the dietary behavior, indicating the incidence of malnutrition, have come into being among all individuals and society segments. Among these diseases are the chronic diseases, such as: obesity, heart diseases, diabetes, blood pressure, tooth decay, thinness, anemia and osteoporosis. The underlying cause of all such diseases is pursuing bad dietary habits, like eating fatty foods, using saturated fats and fast foods, just to mention some.
Drastic Change: Opportunity & Invitation
In view of the continued rise of the prices of basic commodities, on which the family depends, we have to find radical and viable and solutions, in an endeavor to evade the negative effects of this rice in price on the health of individuals (and, accordingly, families) who are unable to keep pace with such high prices, or afford for basic commodities. It should be noted, however, that the Global Crisis could be a good opportunity for bringing about significant changes for the advantage of our society. Food scientists have long been calling for improving the consumer lifestyle. The status quo is turning out to be the best time to make use of this crisis in solving our health problems and make a breakthrough in this domain.
Positive Implications of the Global Crisis of Food Prices on the Purchasing and Marketing Plan of the Saudi Family:
Rationalizing consumption and adopting a non-extravagance strategy, aiming at halving the consumption rate, by means of:
  • Formulating a dietary plan for the family, guided by the Food Pyramid, which specifies the basic food needs of the family members, and developing a weekly list of balanced meals.
  • Earmarking a specific budget for the necessary basic foods, and developing a shopping list based on it, while ensuring adhering to it and specify the quantity needed.
  • Postponing the purchase of luxury foods, or parting with them, like eating potato chips. This will prove effective in adjusting bad dietary habits, and diminishing the health problems caused by fast foods.

Replacing some products with others, with an equivalent nutritional value, and lower price, as follows:

  • Replacing meat with pulses, like lentils, chickpeas and beans; for pulses are characterized by a high nutritional value, especially proteins, when blended in one meal.
  • Replacing the costly products, like ready-made breakfast cereals, with cheaper alternatives, like the pastry made of whole grains, and creamy cheese like yogurt and cheese.
  • Replacing processed juices and canned fruit, which are almost void of any nutritional value, with fresh fruit (only one or two sorts per day).
  • Relying more on the natural and unprocessed materials, since they are healthier and less costly. It should be note, in this regard, that the expenses of processed food are directed to packaging rather than the nutritional value.
  • Buying meals with lower price and higher nutritional value. For example, a nutritionally complete breakfast could be composed of beans, brown bread, salad (made of watercress, for instance), with a cup of milk. This is a healthy and nutritionally complete meal. Likewise, a healthy complete supper could be composed of soup and green salad (containing, especially, leafy greens, like watercress and lettuce), along with brown bread and tuna. This meal, too, albeit cheap, is healthy and nutritionally complete.
Reducing food waste; it's not a secret that about a third of what's purchased or cooked ends up in the trash, especially in Ramadan and social occasions. Reduction of food waste can be brought about as such:
  • Recycling food scraps and making use of all the materials at hand in the food industry, and innovating new food products.
  • Reusing bread after drying or roasting it.
  • Mixing vegetables with eggs, with the addition of spices, fresh and dried herbs (such as thyme, basil and coriander). Such herbs give a delicious taste, as well as a high nutritional value.
  • Ensuring sound storage (by means of cooling and freezing): It is recommended for the housewife to buy tomatoes and vegetables in due time, and soundly keep them in the refrigerator. Even lemon could be kept in the form of juice to be used whenever its price rises.
  • Some cooked foods could be easily and safely cooled and frozen, by keeping them in the fridge, to be used the next day.
  • Reducing the quantities of the ingredients used in the preparation of dishes, such as: butter, sugar, rice and eggs; given the taste of many dishes is not in the least affected when halving the quantities of ingredients.
  • Preparing home-made meals for school or work, taking into consideration that these meals have to be diversified, fresh and healthy. An example of such meals is a cheese sandwich with cucumber slices and mint, or fruit with brown bread rusk and yogurt.
  • Accustoming children to the principles of proper nutrition and rationalizing daily spending. It is recommended, too, to engage them in discussing the family budget, the necessary needs and requirements of all its members, and how to accommodate these requirements with the family's available resources.
  • Seeking to reach the correct and valid information of the nutritional value of foodstuff, as well as storage methods, and comparing between products, in terms of the nutritional value and price; thus immunizing ourselves against deceptive advertisements and illusive propaganda.
  • Evaluating products in terms of quality rather than price.
The potential benefits at the public level can be summed up as follows:
  • Prompting international companies to conduct studies aiming at the identification of the consumers' tendencies and preferences, and lowering prices, to avoid recession.
  • Fostering competition among companies, and putting an end to flooding the market with cheap, low-quality and low-value products.
  • Obliging importing companies to provide products with higher value and lower price, as a result of the high demand for such products.
  • Reducing the volume of imports, so that importing will be confined to strategic goods.
The potential benefits expected to be reflected on the individual and family health, provided following the aforementioned procedures, include:
  • Limiting and controlling the chronic diseases caused by fatty foods and cholesterol-rich saturated fats (whether in fast foods or home-made dishes), by means of choosing fresh foods and avoiding processed ones.
  • Maintaining ideal body weight, by rationalizing spending and reducing the quantity of food, so as to be limited to what is necessary, and to avoid the unneeded surplus.
  • Improving the quality of the family's food, by increasing complex carbohydrates and fibers, found in brown bread and whole unpeeled grains, and avoiding sugary and poor-value foods. 
  • Reducing the intake of sodium, abundantly found in canned and processed foods.
  • Eating foods rich in iron and calcium, like fresh vegetables, fruit and other natural foods.
  • Reducing the intake of sugar, found in juices, canned drinks and sweets.
Last Update : 22 October 2011 05:06 PM
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