Given the health landscape with a large number of adults and students suffering from obesity and creeping chronic non-communicable disorders such as diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular conditions and carcinomas, more emphasis must be placed on promoting nutritional health in the population, at the workplace and modifying the eating and lifestyle environment to include relevant nutrition considerations at schools.
These diseases share common risk factors and those related to dietary factors include high cholesterol, obesity, impaired glucose tolerance, metabolic syndrome. In all of these, improper nutrition is implicated and underlies many complaints and complications of other health conditions. One-third of all cancer deaths may be related to food choices and improvements in eating habits can reduce the risk for many health problems.
Obesity and weight status have always been used as a reliable indicator of health status and the single most cost-effective intervention that could be accessed by workers is an improvement in nutritional status. Employees must however have a stake in improving their own health rather than these quick fix formulas often promoted in the public media.
At the same time, the MOH is in discussion with their Health partners on formulating policy to reduce the marketing of high sugared drinks high salt and high fat snacks to curb obesity.
We host annual conferences, webinars and promote locally produced learning and teaching aids to schools, workplaces, and the general public. The desired result at the end of these webinars will be to have a cadre of persons convinced about the institutionalization of nutrition promotion in the workplace and some will become involved in a process of implementing and expanding ongoing, well structured and sustainable workplace nutrition programmes monitored by JINN personnel. It is expected that participants will be more receptive to the JINN programmes that will be rolled out in subsequent months with workplaces, schools, parents, and communities responsible for school children.
Health insurance companies should see the need to offer ‘no claim bonuses’ and other incentives for persons with evidence of improvements in chronic disorders risk status.
Personnel will be empowered to make the changes to support the desired healthy lifestyle as self efficacy to master some skills will be increased.
Individual employees will receive institutional support in their efforts to implement and sustain nutrition standards in the workplace.
At the wider community and national levels, over the long term, the gains would be to have a healthier nation and companies could be given tax incentives to ensure a healthy workforce and population.