Healthy population and Qatar National nutrition and physical activity action plan 2011-2016

Healthy Population 2010 results regarding nutrition

American health blue print, Healthy People 2010, identifies heath objectives to be achieved during the first decade of the 21st century. Its main goals are promotion of health and reducing incidences of chronic diseases associated with diet and weight, increasing quality and quantity of healthy life years, and elimination of health disparities.  It examines obesity and overweight, growth retardation, consumption of various types of foods and nutrients, iron deficiency, diet and nutrition counseling, and food security.  The report shows that targets were not fully achieved since the proportion of people with healthy eating patterns improved just slightly.  35.5% increment in calcium intake among people, aged two years and over, indicates a shortfall in the target of Healthy People 2010 set at 74%; total calcium intake among the subjects was found to fall below the recommended level. However, the calcium intake levels are dependent on racial and ethnic populations, sex, income levels and disability status.

Most significantly, the weight status of the Americans did not improve according to the report. The number of obese people increased steadily instead of reducing. Based on their BMI, the proportion of adults aged 20 years and over rose by 47.8% (from 23% to 34%), thus the 2010 objective of 15% was not met. In addition, obesity rates also increased for children aged 6-11 years by 54.5%. Similarly, 63.6% of teenagers also became obese deviating from the 2010 target of 5%. Nonetheless, obesity in adults sample varied according to geographical locations. Some regions such as Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts had the lowest obesity rates, whereas Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and West Virginia recorded the highest rates.

Growth retardation in children of less than 5 years from low income families did not show any change of vegetable intake, but fruit intake of at least two servings daily for two years and above indicated a slight positive change of 2.6%. This is an achievement of 2.8%. Grain product intake, saturated fat intake, total fat intake, total sodium intake, iron deficiency in children of 1-4 years, anemia in low-income pregnant females in their third trimester of pregnancy sample, iron deficiency of pregnant females, nutrition counseling for patients with cardiovascular disease, diabetes or hyperlipidemia and food security among U.S. households all plummeted from their respective targets indicating negative developments. Among racial and ethnic groups white non-Hispanic households had the highest rate (89%) of food security in 2008, whereas black non-Hispanic, Hispanic or Latino, and American Indian or Alaska Native households had rates of 74%, 73%, and 77% respectively in the same year. In terms of households with food insecurity, the rates for black non-Hispanic and Hispanic or Latino families were almost two and a half times the best rate (that for white non-Hispanic households), while rate for American Indian or Alaska Native households was more than twice the best rate. Iron deficiency in pregnant women from 12-49 remained unchanged though.

In conclusion, the Healthy People 2010 roadmap failed to achieve most of its objectives by recording negative trends in the target levels. Although the report does not give exclusive reasons as to why healthy people did not perform as expected. Failures related to diet and nutrition could have stemmed from food insecurity, which was expected to decline, but soars sharply instead. Considering that, awareness should precede the introduction and implementation of sensitive health policies and plans. Lack of public awareness concerning better eating habits, good, healthy diet and active life with its benefits could have also played a part to the failure.

USA Healthy population 2020 (nutrition part) and Qatar National nutrition and physical activity action plan 2011-2016

USA Healthy Population 2020 nutrition and weight status and Qatar National nutrition and physical activity action plan for 2011-2016 share common objectives as well as slight differences in their strategies of achieving those objectives. Both aim at improving the health of their populations by preventing and reducing the rate of non-communicable or chronic disease infections. The two policies maintain that weight and diet related diseases such as cardiac illnesses, kidney problems, diabetes and cancer could be simply addressed through healthy eating habits and lifestyle among the human populations. It is apparent that both Qatar and USA make an effort to address these issues almost in all places where people stay permanently or frequently, starting from the households, workplace, schools, public places to the entire community.

USA Healthy Population 2020 (nutrition part) contains a variety of policies and environmental factors that support maintaining a healthy diet and a healthy body weight in schools, workplaces, health care organizations and communities, thus rendering “Nutrition and Weight Status” a focus area. As such, the nutrition and weight status objectives largely assess individual behaviors concerning the consumption of healthy diets, realization and maintenance of healthy body weights alongside policies and environments that support these desired behaviors. The Healthy People 2020 Nutrition and Weight Status Topic Area can be grouped into six sections: healthier food access, healthcare and worksite settings, weight status, food insecurity, food and nutrient consumption, and iron deficiency.

Healthier food access calls American people to include the healthy foods to their diets. It serves to reduce the amount of fats and increase amount of fruits and vegetables intake during a meal. This will not only ensure that the population lives the healthy way and further keep various diet related diseases at bay, but also restricts one’s weight within safer limits. Weight condition is much dependent on a diet. Therefore, healthy nutrition guidelines are encouraged and offered for Americans with an aim of avoiding obesity. Healthcare shall be improved by the provision of a greater number of health facilities including qualified staff in various departments and by formulating policies that will provide with better working conditions in an attempt to avoid occupational diseases, especially within chemical industries’ environments.

The main goal of Qatar national nutrition and physical activity action plan for 2011-2016 is to reduce morbidity and mortality attributable to chronic diseases in the State of Qatar. The plan outlines other subsidiary objectives, expected outcomes, activities and programs that would expedite the achievement of the plan’s grand objectives. These activities are divided into five major parts namely National Nutrition Policies and Legislation, National Coordination Mechanism, National Nutrition Programs, National Physical Activity Program, Promotion and Advocacy, Surveillance, and Monitoring and Evaluation.

National nutrition policies and legislation is the fundamental area and the basis, on which the main goal of the plan would be realized. Their formulation is motivated by the urge to improve dietary patterns and, further, to promote physical activity of the population. These shall be accomplished through the implementation of four programs: national dietary guidelines, guidelines and regulations for marketing food and sugar-sweetened beverages to children, development and update of legislation on labeling for local and imported food products including food served in restaurants and fast food chains and development and review of the national physical activity guidelines for the population to ensure that facilities for physical activity are available on the premises of schools and workplaces.

A national coordinating mechanism was established to address nutrition and physical activity within the context of the Action Plan, so as to facilitate and promote the participation of other important sectors and bodies such as non-governmental organizations, the academia, civil society, the private sector and media in activities related to nutrition and physical activity. In this mechanism, working groups in every sector of the action plan is established. The working groups are meant to oversee, develop and implement the Action Plan. The third implementation mechanism is to establish National Nutrition Programs that will promote optimal maternal health care, infant and young child development and nutrition for school-aged children. Examples of such programs include nutrition and breastfeeding counseling at the primary health care centers, enhanced national breast feeding programs, promotion of best practices in complementary feeding, establishment of a national school snack program, introduction of nutrition into the core school curriculum and promotion of healthy eating habits for children.

National Physical Activity Program reviews the existing national guidelines for health-enhancing physical activity in schools and at workplaces. The programs under this area include the introduction of physical activity into the core school curriculum and promotion of physical activity at school and at any particular workplace. To ensure the majority benefits from the plan, Promotion and Advocacy action area, whose programs serve to establish a working group on promotion and advocacy through the media, shall be formed in a bid to implement the action plan. Regular nutrition education and social marketing campaigns will be promoted afterwards with help of the mass media. These programs altogether aim at raising public awareness about the risk factors of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and the benefits of good nutrition and physical activity through all the possible means of communication.

Finally, the Qatar national nutrition and physical activity action plan for 2011-2016 ends with the Surveillance, Monitoring and Evaluation section, which assesses the quality of national programs in regard to their coverage and efficiency, progress, implementation and impact of the action plans. This calls for the establishment of National nutrition surveillance system and introduction of World Health Organization’s Stepwise survey for NCD risk surveillance.

Although both USA Healthy population 2020 (nutrition part) and Qatar National nutrition and physical activity action plan 2011-2016 address the problem of nutrition and diet, Qatar National nutrition plan fails to highlight whether and how its population would be secured in terms of food. USA Healthy Population 2020 Nutrition and Weight Status noticed that people may have knowledge about healthy eating, but food insecurity can lead to unhealthy eating patterns, nutrient consumption and iron deficiency. While both plans include formulation of policies to achieve their respective goals, Qatar’s plan involve other groups such as non-governmental organizations, the academia, civil society, the private sector and the media in its activities related to nutrition and physical activity.

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