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Food Pro-fit fights obesity

10 July 2010 / 14:07:35  GRReporter
9545 reads


The proverb says “Healthy spirit in a healthy body.” Although the summer makes us want to forget our problems we should still remember how important food and its quality is. Scientists, biologists, chemists and nutritionists have been engaged in the issue of what and how we eat for years now. During the past two decades, however, the topic has become particularly popular with the negative effects of our frantic daily round becoming obvious on all of us. Mankind suffers from obesity ... 


In the spirit of seeking a solution to the weight issue, the European Program for Healthy Eating Food Pro-fit was created. At a press conference given by the leader of Food Pro-fit Antonio Colom and the medical services of the Cyprean Ministry of Health an effective method to combat obesity was presented. Food Pro-fit is developing  a special system for measuring the amount of the three most harmful ingredients in food nowadays- salt, fat and sugar. Anyone who wishes to verify that the quantity of ingredients in the meal he/she wants to prepare are within the healthy amounts can easily do this through the HANCP program and make sure the meal is healthy. The program offers a solution for how to keep the same taste, but make our food more nutritious and reduce the harmful ingredients. spoke with Eliza Merkidu, clinical nutritionist and healthy eating specialist, president of the American Association of Foreign Dieticians and clinical nutritionist in New York and London. 


GRREPORTER: How was the idea of a specific program born?


Eliza Merkidu: The Ministry of Health in Cyprus tries to participate in European programs, but at the same time to work on its own projects to help prevent obesity, and other diseases. We are particularly interested in programs to reduce salt and fats in food, which is also a guideline of the the European Union towards groups with high levels of obesity. Food Pro-fit is a program subsidized by the European Union whose members are Spain, the leader of the program, Cyprus, Crete, Germany and Austria. We have partners at lower levels as well. We have all provided data regarding obesity levels in our country and we have started to cooperate with companies, catering chains, hotels, etc. We have already contributed to the production of foods with smaller sugar, fats and salt content. The outcome of our collaboration was the creation of a very useful program. It will be available online for free use. The user has to input the ingredients of the recipe in the database. They are being processed after which the computer can say if the level of the three most harmful ingredients is within limits. The program can help to reduce it and thus prepare a dish that is beneficial to our health.


GRREPORTER: What will happen to the moussaka in this case?


Eliza Merkidu: The moussaka can be modified by reducing the amount of fat, but also by changing the type of oil. Sunflower oil may be replaced with olive oil. You can also remove certain amount of salt from food. But we won’t change traditional dishes for sure. We will just try to make them healthier. Only few things are changed but the overall taste of food remains the same.


GRREPORTER: Mediterranean cuisine is known to be very healthy…


Eliza Merkidu: This is true, but unfortunately it has changed a lot. The number of fast-food restaurants is growing. Some major elements of our kitchen have been preserved, but at the same time we use too much butter, cream, chocolate etc. All this affects our health negatively.


GRREPORTER: What is the percentage of obesity in Cyprus at the moment?


Eliza Merkidu: Very high. The percentage in Cyprus right now is 60%. Among children is 70%. Walking on the streets, we might not notice obese people, but statistics show otherwise. The heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes mortality rates are high. These diseases originate from obesity. 10 kilograms of overweight may not be noticeable but it is bad for our organism.


GRREPORTER: How are you intending to present and promote your program? You said that you plan to start with catering, hotel food, etc. Don’t you think it would be difficult? You'll need to change the way people think...


Eliza Merkidu: It will be difficult, but we have just started. We believe, however, that we will be successful. The way people think about food is changing. We have been bombarding the Ministry with healthy food topics for 20 years now. We haven’t seen any good results yet but we definitely witness a positive change. We hope the situation will improve. We intend to do conduct seminars for dietitians, food producers, catering firms and citizens. Another seminar will take place in Greece in October. I believe we can achieve better results through keeping people constantly updated.



Tags: Food Pro fitDietObesityFightingHealthy DietSaltSugar
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