Africa: WHO Releases New Guidelines to Prevent Unhealthy Weight Gain

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued new guidelines to tackle the problem of unhealthy weight gain among adults and children. Based on the latest scientific evidence, these guidelines focus on total fat, saturated and trans-fat, and carbohydrate intake.

According to the WHO, adults should limit their total fat intake to 30 percent of their total energy intake or less. The organization emphasizes the consumption of primarily unsaturated fats, which can be found in foods such as fish, avocado, nuts, and oils like sunflower, soybean, canola, and olive oils.

The guidelines also address the issue of saturated and trans-fatty acid intake for both adults and children. For children aged two years and older, fat consumption should mainly come from unsaturated fatty acids, with no more than 10 percent of total energy intake derived from saturated fats and no more than 1 percent from trans-fatty acids.

This applies to both industrially produced and ruminant animal sources. Instead of consuming saturated and trans-fatty acids, WHO suggests replacing them with other saturated fatty acids found in fatty meat, dairy products, and hard fats and oils like butter, ghee, lard, palm oil, and coconut oil.

Trans-fatty acids are commonly found in baked and fried foods, pre-packaged snacks, and meat and dairy products from ruminant animals like cows or sheep.

The new guidelines aim to reduce the risk of unhealthy weight gain and diet-related non-communicable diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer.

Furthermore, the WHO highlights the importance of carbohydrate quality for good health. For individuals aged two years and above, carbohydrate consumption should primarily come from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and pulses (high-protein, high-fiber foods).

As part of the guidelines, adults are urged to consume a minimum of 400 grams of vegetables and fruits and 25 grams of naturally occurring dietary fiber per day, emphasizing the significance of these foods for overall health.

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