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Jun 8, 2023

Ministry of Health and Wellness Launch National Nutrition Policy

Sixty percent of Belize’s population is overweight and thirty percent is obese, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health and Wellness. In an effort to improve Belize’s nutrition approach and promote healthier lifestyles, the ministry has launched an ambitious National Nutrition Policy. The policy speaks to inter-sectoral and multi-sectoral approaches to promote nutrition and healthy eating. This is being done in an effort to combat chronic diseases that are among the leading causes of death. News Five’s Paul Lopez was present for the launch. He filed the following report.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

The Ministry of Health and Wellness today launched the National Nutrition Policy at an event in Belize City. The policy is described as a comprehensive approach to nutrition to fight increasing rates of chronic diseases and nutritional imbalances.


Kevin Bernard

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness

“I think is that it displays the commitment of the government and the ministry of health, being the leading agency within this is for us to ensure that we could promote healthy living. As I mentioned in my message, it’s not just the matter of living, but it is the way we eat, the things we eat that makes us healthy. There’s a task force set up working with ministry agriculture, for us to promote healthy living. We need to, we need to reduce the non-communicable diseases that are affecting us, malnutrition and under nutrition leads to health issues that you talk about, high hypertension, diabetes, cancer.”


Francis Fonseca, the Minister of Education, was present at this morning’s launch to give his ministry’s support for the policy. He shared that the Ministry of Education’s goal is to ensure students across the country have access to a nourishing meal daily while at school.


Francis Fonseca

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education

“We have launched a National Healthy Start Feeding Program, which is an effort from by the Government of Belize to provide, you know, a healthy meal to all of our students across the country, at least one healthy meal, a nutritious meal. And so that, that’s what this nutrition policy is all about. Of course, this is for the entire country. Belize has been documented in the policy. We are facing a crisis really, when it comes to what they call the NCDs, these non-communicable diseases. As you all know very well, we see it every day. People are in desperate need of health, uh, care because of chronic diseases.”


Doctor Fidel Cuellar of the Ministry of Health and Wellness further explained that the policy will strengthen Belize’s nutrition and food security regulatory and operational framework. The policy’s main objectives are to increase awareness and promote healthy eating.


Fidel Cuellar

Dr. Fidel Cuellar, Ministry of Health and Wellness

“They are to reduce malnutrition in all its forms, and not only in all its forms, but during the entire life course. We are looking to combat malnutrition from the time of conception to the time you get old and you pass on. Each one of these phases nutrition is important to guarantee a good life, a healthy life, productivity. We need to teach and learn how to eat healthy. We need access to food, but not only just access; we need foods that are free from illnesses.”


According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, quote, food security exist when all people at all time has physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, end quote. We asked the Minister of Health about the higher cost of healthy food options when compared to the cost of most unhealthy foods, a reality faced by many Belizeans.


Kevin Bernard

“We need to look at the food basket because when you look, let me point this out, I had a discussion with my directors last week and we were talking about the cost of living, the cost of food, the cost of yes, but what are our people going to eat? What are people rushing to eat, the ramen and those things that are, that are not healthy? So we need to really take a serious look at what we are making available at cheap prices, which are unhealthy food. Let us make the local grown foods that are better for our people, the healthy foods, more affordable to the Malaysian society, and then tax unhealthy food. That is my perspective, but I think we need to read, like I said, the policy talks about what we should do and what we ought to do as a country, and as a people and individually as well, in order for us to live healthy.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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