In the session about NCDs (non-communicable diseases), diet-based problems were illustrated and discussed and the link to agricultural practices was analysed. Evidence was gathered and possibilities for future agricultural research were presented under the guidance of Mr. K. Srinath Reddy. Some outcomes of this session were that people get severe illnesses such as cancer and diabetes due to the food each person eats- so you are what you eat- namely fat and ill or slim and healthy.
One single biggest cause of death
Over 50 million people die each year on cancer, diabetes type 2 and cardio-vascular diseases (heart problems). That is the population of whole Netherlands. These diseases are called non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and are non-infectious and diet-based. So each person is responsible for his/her own personal health problems, which result to a great extent from overweight and/or obesity. On our earth 1 billion adults are overweight and additional half a billion are obese. The underlying patterns are too much and inappropriate food and not enough physical exercise. NCDs will account in the future for approximately 90% of the deaths in Europe and are already currently the one single biggest cause of death.
Are you too fat?
Whether you are overweight or obese you can calculate with the BMI (body mass index) equation:
Body weight / (body height)2 (automatic, faster way: www.bmi-rechner.net
If your BMI is over 25 then you are overweight, over 30 obese and over 40 you are a case of severe adipositas and you should immediately go to a doctor. Nevertheless, the BMI has to be seen carefully, as people with a high muscle mass will also fall under ‘overweight’ although they are not from a ‘fat’ point of view. Therefore, one should check the body fat percentage at the doctor.
Overweight- a sign of poverty
Many daunting pictures about overweight and obese people in Megacities of low-income countries around the world were shown to the audience making clear that especially poor people are prone to overweight. Another astonishing fact is that when women are not able to eat sufficient nutrients in their pregnancy their children will have a low birth weight. When taking up a normal diet afterwards, the children will be to a great extent subject to overweight between the age of 2 and 12. This effect is known as rebound adipositas.
To fight overweight and the resulting NCDs some suggestions that are already general knowledge about a healthy diet are presented in the following.
FAVOR to eat:
1) Fruits and Vegetables (Be aware: in some countries potatoes and rice are seen as vegetables! But that is unfortunately not true)
4) Healthy fats (mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3), mainly from vegetable sources
5) Fibre/ unrefined carbohydrates
AVOID to consume:
1) Red meat
4) Trans-fatty acids
5) Saturated fats
The last five mentioned occur to a great extent in processed and fried foods such as chocolate bars, chips, cakes and pizza.
Heart attack after eating a big steak
Also a nice bloody steak belongs to the category of ‘foods to avoid’ and when consuming it regularly coronary heart diseases will occur with a higher probability. So a heart attack can be the result of eating a large amount of steaks alias red meat.
Nevertheless, bear in mind, that the points discussed in the breakout session only define aspects of a healthy diet as also presented by the German Nutrition Society (www.DGE.de
). Points for a sustainable diet, which creates a direct link to agriculture and the food system, are unluckily not looked at by the experts.
So agricultural and nutrition scientists should take sustainable diet into account when designing new research projects. They should furthermore build up solid partnerships with nutrition associations such as the DGE and aid (Allgemeiner Informationsdienst).
The next time you have to buy food just think twice before purchasing chips, steak and Co.! Likewise, before starting research, just look at your own eating behavior.