Bermuda Dietitians Launch New Campaign

March 5, 2021

The Bermuda Dietitians Association has launched a new campaign ‘Choose Your Health, Eat Sustainably’ in time for National Nutrition Month, which aims to demonstrate how Bermudians can make essential changes for Bermuda’s health, and the planet.

A spokesperson said, “The campaign ‘Choose Your Health, Eat Sustainably’ was inspired by the ‘One Blue Dot’ project created by the British Dietetic Association which came from an extensive review of the evidence on dietary guidance to promote eating habits that are both healthy and sustainable.

“The Bermuda Dietitians Association’s dietitians recognize poor eating habits affect our health. Current eating patterns in Bermuda are low in fiber, fruits, and vegetables, and high in saturated fats and refined sugar. Our diets can also affect the planet. From farm to fork to waste, each stage has environmental impacts.

President of the Bermuda Dietitians Association Sarah Williamson advises, “As experts in dietary intervention, dietitians can translate dietary science into context for different people, and we need to ensure that any sustainable advice around food choices is also beneficial to overall health outcomes in Bermuda and continues to meet the nutritional needs of our population. Our goal is to promote the benefits of our local food system here in Bermuda and highlight some important health messages along the way.”

“Not only can our diets affect our gut and mental health. Latest findings published in The Lancet from the Global Burden of Disease study tell us the biggest disease burden of today is of course obesity, with childhood obesity also on the rise. The high rate of obesity has resulted in an explosion of non-communicable diseases. Diabetes, the leading cause of amputations in Bermuda, is increased 5-fold in obese persons. Obesity alone increases heart disease risk by 28% and is second only to smoking for an increased risk of 12 cancers, with the biggest associations being colon and breast cancer.

“By making dietary changes at home, it is a win-win for the planet and our health. Increased greenhouse gas emissions have a direct impact on global warming. Whilst a rise is inevitable, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] has proposed we aim to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5oC by 2050 if we are to prevent catastrophic consequences. To achieve this recommended safe level, a reduction of 70-95% in current greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is required. As the food system is responsible for as much as 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions, our food system needs to change.

“An increase in fruit and vegetable consumption is essential for Bermuda. Fruit and vegetable intake is not to be discouraged, but rather the message is to waste less. Any produce that is airfreighted, pre-packed and/or pre-prepared will not be as sustainable as buying seasonally and locally produced fruit and vegetables, or canned and frozen varieties. Fruit and vegetables that are perishable are the biggest contributors to household waste. This household waste can be composted to make soil to grow your own fruit and vegetables at home. To avoid waste, it is okay to buy tinned and frozen varieties, and use leftovers in soups, sauces, etc.

“Globally, fish stocks are at an all-time low with 85% of oceans overfished and an increased reliance on farmed fish. In Bermuda, we are lucky to have waters filled with fish so we can eat more sustainably. This will help us in reducing red meat consumption. To eat more sustainably, reducing red meat consumption should be prioritized. The transport of animal products represents 6% of greenhouse gas emissions, while the production of feed and methane emissions represents 84%. Bermuda has two livestock farms, so we can buy local. Red meat is a key source of iron and zinc so should not be avoided but beef and lamb have a big environmental burden, so a reduction is important. Like beef cattle, dairy cattle can be environmentally burdensome. Dairy should therefore be eaten in moderate amounts too, and healthier plant-based alternatives used. Plant proteins such as beans, soya, tofu, mycoprotein, nuts and seeds have a much lower environmental burden.

“It is now widely accepted that our eating habits are having an adverse impact on the environment and we are endangering the future of our planet. There is mounting pressure for radical change from leading environmental specialists, organizations, and governments all over the world – as well as growing public interest and support here in Bermuda. It is important we work together to combat climate change and individual households have the biggest role to play.”

“The food choices the Bermuda Dietitians Association is recommending throughout March in their new campaign will have a direct impact on sustainability. You can follow their journey on Facebook @bermudadietitians.”

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