Seychelles: New Dietary Guidelines in Seychelles Emphasise Fruits, Vegetables, Warn Against Processed Food

Seychelles has new dietary guidelines that emphasise more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods full of salt and sugar.

The guidelines, released two weeks ago by the Ministry of Health, are an update on the island nation’s original guidelines released in 2007.

“It is hoped that the new guidelines will help to sensitise and raise awareness about the importance of eating varied, nutrient-dense local foods like tubers, fruits and vegetable instead of consuming ultra-processed foods with sugar and salt, which attract consumers as they are affordable and readily available in shops,” said the ministry’s principal nutritionist, Stephanie Desnousse.

Desnousse noted that Seychellois residents now have more access to “imported, ultra-processed foods.”

Seychelles has a high prevalence of obesity and chronic diseases, and Desnousse said this is observed among all age groups. A 2013 heart study found an increased prevalence of combined overweight and obesity in men from 28 percent to 57 percent and in women from 51 percent to 72 percent compared to 1989.

The dietary guidelines target the general population with 10 general messages about healthy eating and the types of food recommended for them daily and nutritional values of food per 100 grammes.

It also has separate guidelines for children from 0 to 5 years, as well as pregnant and lactating women.

“We felt that this was important as there is a need for further education in those critical life stages in ensuring that young children get the best start in life,” explains Desnousse.

The process for revising the guidelines started in 2017 and involved the participation of professionals from the health, education, agriculture, and fisheries sector who were tasked with scrutinising the previous guidelines, reviewing existing literature for emerging evidence in the field and review current guidelines from other countries globally. The review was done with the financial support of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).