Make Healthier Choices to Avert Increase in Healthcare Cost After the Festive Season
The foods we consume if not checked increases our disease burden including cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer, hypertension, and diabetes etc.
The festive season is an exciting time of the year when most people spend quality time with families, friends, and loved ones. Food and drinks are usually a focus of this quality time, especially during the holidays- it’s also a time when routine and behavior around food can change as you may be off school or work.
The industry around this time takes advantage of the vulnerability of the public by investing more in diverse promotional media and resources that have impacts on the public purchasing habits. Hence, bombard them with food, beverages and alcohol advertisements online and on tv showing tasty, succulent foods and icy beverages that one can almost smell and feel the chills through the screens.
These unhealthy commodity industries, led by Big Alcohol, Big Food, and Big Soda, leverage the yuletide for commercial gains, without any concern for the health of the public. Meanwhile, their products contribute to and remain major risk factors for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
The foods we consume if not checked increases our disease burden including cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer, hypertension, and diabetes etc. Foods, diet, and nutritional status, including overweight and obesity, are associated with elevated blood pressure and blood cholesterol, and resistance to the action of insulin. These conditions are not only risk factors for NCDs but major causes of illness themselves (World Cancer Research Fund International).
We wish to remind the public of the popular saying that “we are what we eat” and encourage them to make healthy choices in the festive season and not be swayed away by the deception of the industry.
Is it not an irony that sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs), tobacco, alcohol and junk food companies whose products increase the risk of NCDs, and kill 41 million people annually, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally have positioned themselves as champions and partners in humanitarian services to protect population health?
To the young adolescent and youth, this is the moment where you will be exposed all unhealthy activities including tobacco (shisha and electronic cigarettes and alcoholic drinks. You are encouraged to refrain from the temptations of these products, which are glamorized during the festivities. Don’t be deceived by the appealing flavors, shisha is tobacco in disguise and even more harmful to your health as a session or an hour of shisha smoke is approximately 100 to 200 sticks of cigarettes. Take your health into your own hands- before you take a puff, remember you only live once.
The Ghana NCD Alliance appeals to the public to make healthier options a routine this Christmas by making exercise a priority, avoiding foods high in fat, sugar, and salt, say no to tobacco and alcohol- opt for fresh fruits, and drink a lot of water to keep hydrated. “Also please be cautious of the products you buy in the open market to avoid poisoning and other health consequences”
The Ghana NCD Alliance will like to commend the Food and Drugs Authority and Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority but also call on them to intensify surveillance at the various borders, unapproved routes and the markets to impound unregistered, unwholesome and expired products to protect the public.
Championing public health gains is a collective responsibility and we can triumph together. The media remains a key stakeholder in this fight with an onerous obligation to highlight public calls for support for health policies to strengthen public health systems and bring relief to the people.
We wish you a HEALTHY, Sober Free Christmas and a Happy New Year!