Lesson 76: Healthy Food can Reduce Noncommunicable Diseases (Level 2+)

The causes of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are many and varied. Some are environmental, including indoor and outdoor air pollution. Some are genetic, such as in some cases of diabetes. Many more are the result of decisions people make and behaviours they engage in, including tobacco use or the harmful use of alcohol. Whatever the root, every year NCDs kill millions of people around the world.

Food systems define the way in which risks associated with several NCDs- from diabetes to heart disease and hypertension to cancer- are reduced or allowed to grow. A reduction in salt intake and the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, and cutting down the intake of fatty foods will reduce the occurrence of many of these noncommunicable diseases.

Many countries have recognised this and are implementing important changes in the labelling of consumer products. In 2016, Sri Lanka pioneered a ‘traffic light’ labelling system for all beverages sold in the country. This creates a simple way for consumers to be made aware of the sugar contained in pre-packaged drinks and make informed decisions to regulate their consumption. Also in 2016, the Maldives hiked taxes on energy drinks and soft drinks by a massive 58% – the single greatest increase anywhere in the world.

India has reduced the amount of trans-fats permissible in food products to 5%. Many countries are working with the consumer products industry to limit the salt content of a range of foods.

Health authorities need to identify key problem areas where changes in dietary habits will have greatest impact on our health.

 A) Vocabulary

Please make sentences with the following words or phrases. Your sentences should show that you understand the meaning of the word or phrase.

Environmental – relating to the natural world or relating to a person’s surroundings.
Genetic – in all living things, the characteristics and qualities of parents are given to their children by their genes (specific chemical patterns).
Hypertension – high blood pressure
Beverage – A drink other than water
Consumer product – An item of common or daily use
Informed decision – is a decision that is based on knowledge of a subject or situation.
Regulate – (verb) to control or manage
Hike – (verb) a sharp increase in price or cost
Trans-fats – a type of fat produced industrially from vegetable fats. It is used in some fried foods and packaged biscuits and cakes.
Dietary – relating to or provided by diet

B) Discussion Points

  1. Please give 5 examples of communicable diseases.
  2. How do communicable diseases spread?
  3. Do they all spread in the same way?
  4. Flu is a communicable disease. How does it spread?
  5. Name 5 noncommunicable diseases.
  6. What causes hypertension (high blood pressure)?
  7. Name a couple of environmental factors that can lead to disease.
  8. What items of food do you need to regulate if you want to be healthy?
  9. What is your favourite snack? Does it contain too much salt, sugar or unhealthy fat? Name 5 healthy snacks.
  10. Why is it important to be careful about what you eat and drink?

C) A Word for the Day: Health

Are you healthy?
What does it mean to be healthy?
How can you lead a healthier life?
What does this saying mean: Health is wealth?
Please think about the idea of ‘health.’
Remember that health is both physical and mental.