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What's Up With Your Health?

HPHR Fellow Ananya Awasthi

By Dr. Ananya Awasthi

HOW TO APPLY THE MPOWER STRATEGY FOR PROMOTING A HEALTHY FOOD ENVIORNMENT ?

Governments can play a critical role in creating a healthy food environment which generates demand for improved dietary behaviours resulting into better nutritional outcomes. Ministries of Health and Nutrition across the world are well positioned to enable people to adopt and maintain healthy dietary practices. In an attempt to develop a policy framework for implementing relevant strategies, World Health Organization (WHO)’s MPOWER strategy is a case in consideration.

 

WHO launched the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) to assist countries in developing programs and policies for tobacco control. With the objective of providing technical resources and tools for implementing the convention, WHO further recommended the MPOWER strategy. MPOWER strategy is a policy framework that outlines a multi-sectoral  action plan that may be relevant for public health campaigns, including those aimed at controlling the spread of chronic disease like diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases through reduced demand for unhealthy food and beverages.1

 

Adapting the MPOWER strategy to promote healthy dietary behaviours, nutrition advocates can convene multi-stakeholder policy forums with decision makers, academia, practitioners and technical institutions for knowledge translation and policy adoption on following strategic interventions:

 

M- onitor diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases

  • Screening for Non-Communicable Diseases by Community Health Workers
  • Diversifying the consumer engagement apps for prevention of lifestyle diseases

P- rotect people from unhealthy foods

  • Minimizing the consumption of processed foods with exceptionally high salt/fat contents through incentives to the food industry
  • Media partnerships to promote evidence-based messages on nutrition promotion

O – ffer help for healthy eating

  • Promoting the consumption of whole-foods and regional millets
  • Incentivizing crop diversification, natural farming and forward market linkages for FPOs and Women SHGs.
  • Popularizing the concept of a “healthy eating plate” in schools

W- arning about high calorie foods

  • “Food Labelling” and “Color Coding” for products having more than 10% of daily caloric requirements
  • Calorie labelling for the entire quantity of the product and not per serving

E- nforce bans

  • Gutka (Chewable Tobacco)
  • Controlling the sales of cigarettes or bidis through measure like banning the open sale of single cigarettes

R- aise taxes on unhealthy foods and beverages

  • Taxing sugar sweetened beverages”
  • Restricting sale of high calorie soda and high sodium packaged foods in schools.

 

Dr. Ananya Awasthi describes how WHO's MPOWER strategy can be applied to promote a HEALTHY FOOD ENVIRONMENT.
From Indian girl unable to choose between fresh apple and burger, healthy eating concept, by StockImageFactory.com, Shutterstock (https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/pretty-little-indianasian-girl-unable-choose-1137388442)

To compliment the policy advocacy effort for healthy diets, test out some of the following solutions to generate demand and public support for the above interventions, aimed at creating a “Healthy Food Environment”.

 

  1. Promote media campaigns on a “Healthy Eating Plate”, which is reflective of country specific food diversity and culture and is accessible in local languages.
  2. Foster media partnerships for strategic messaging on promoting the consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables and livestock produce.
  3. Develop behaviour change communication content for vernacular audiences through multi-modal dissemination on popular social media platforms, folk theatre and partnering with the Local Governments.
  4. Capture stories of local nutri-champions as advocates for a social campaign on nutrition promotion.
  5. Advocate for a collaborative effort to incorporate the basics of nutrition science in the school curriculums.
  6. Create policy briefs and data visualization tools on the latest evidence base and population level data that can inform the programming on nutrition promotion. Also, explore the feasibility of parliamentary caucus on nutrition advocacy.

References

  1. World Health Organization, & Research for International Tobacco Control. (2008). WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2008: the MPOWER package. World Health Organization.

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