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With a webinar, the Government began activities for the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021

The authorities highlighted the health benefits of consuming these foods as a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular diseases, which are the leading causes of death globally. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2017, 3.9 million deaths resulted from insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

This morning, the Government began the activities of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021, which aims to raise awareness of the benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables on people's health, raise awareness about the losses and waste of these food and share experiences and good practices on sustainable consumption and production, integrating peasant family farming.

The activity consisted of a webinar organized by the National Committee of the Year of Fruits and Vegetables coordinated by the "Elige Vivir Sano" (Choose Living Healthy) Secretariat of the Ministry of Social Development and Family and made up of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Office of Agrarian Studies and Policies, Ministry Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Corporation 5 a day.

"This year 2021, the United Nations General Assembly declared that it will be the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, a measure that we have been promoting as a Government since 2018, which had the support of Costa Rica and Nigeria, and that finally managed to be co-sponsored by a total of 73 member states," affirmed the First Lady of the Nation, Cecilia Morel, who added that "the management of our authorities reflects the understanding of the urgency of the global panorama and the commitment of our country to address these challenges as malnutrition, overweight and obesity, and bad agricultural practices."

For his part, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Andrés Allamand, pointed out that "cooperation and multilateralism are the main truly effective means to face global challenges and concretely advance in the fulfillment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda, for the direct benefit of our peoples."

The consumption of fruits and vegetables plays a fundamental role in people's health. A diet rich in these foods can have benefits such as lowering blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease, which are the leading causes of death globally. At the same time, low consumption of fruits and vegetables is one of the main risk factors for mortality. In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 3.9 million deaths resulted from insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables. In this context, the entity recommends a minimum daily consumption of 400g of fruits and vegetables, that is, five servings a day to reduce the risk of developing non-communicable diseases.

"Our challenge is to improve food, nutrition, and the agri-food system in Chile. Because the consumption of fruits and vegetables contributes to people's health, to their jobs, to development, and unfortunately it is not the same in all countries, regions or groups. A situation that has become even more acute with the arrival of the Pandemic. The access gaps by income level, an area where one lives, territory and other variables are enormous and must be reduced. If this was a challenge before, now it is much more," said the Minister of Social Development and Family, Karla Rubilar.

In this regard, her counterpart from Agriculture, María Emilia Undurraga, added that "the pandemic has made the importance of food even more visible in our daily lives and of course it is not just any diet, but rather that which allows us to have a life healthy. It is in this framework that the consumption of fruits and vegetables plays a fundamental role in people's health since although our country is the main exporter of fresh fruits in the southern hemisphere, only 15% of the inhabitants comply with the recommended daily consumption established by the world health organization."

Along these lines, the Undersecretary of Public Health, Paula Daza, stated that "food is an essential part of people's well-being and in this context, we have worked hard to contribute to the public health strategy to combat one of the most important pandemics that is obesity. In Chile, we have 34% obesity in adults and more than 12% obesity in children, for this reason, we have implemented a series of measures such as the National Food and Nutrition Policy, the Dietary Guidelines, the Food Guide for Boys and Girls, the Law on Nutritional Composition and Food Advertising, taxes on sugary drinks and health promotion strategies."

At the seminar, the Nutrition officer for the FAO Office in America and the Caribbean, Israel Ríos, and the Executive Secretary of Choose Living Healthy, Daniela Godoy, presented the main results of the FAO / PAHO International Workshop held between 24 August and September 9, 2020, where experts from around the world met with the aim of developing recommendations for future public policies to improve consumption, production and the value chain of fruits and vegetables.

In this regard, the executive secretary of "Elige Vivir Sano", Daniela Godoy, pointed out that "what we have presented is part of the discussion that we gave a few months ago with 39 experts from different countries and different regions of the world on public policies that can be developed to encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables and the evidence on their benefits. The analysis showed us that fruits and vegetables help the growth and development of children, collaborate with our immune system, contribute to a longer life, improve mental health and their consumption is associated with a lower risk of obesity. In addition, its intake of fruits and vegetables is related to better cardiovascular health, lower risk of diseases such as cancer and diabetes, and improves intestinal health."

The FAO representative in Chile, Eve Crowley, also participated in the activity, who stressed that "in this international year, we want to urgently reinforce, due to the growing excess malnutrition that afflicts all age groups in Chile, the importance of consuming fruits and vegetables to maintain a healthy diet. Increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables is a task that can be achieved through intersectoral actions and innovations in production, marketing, and nutritional education for consumers."

The activity included the presentation of the book "5 a day programs: A global view, the study of countries" of the Corporation 5 a day. The president of the corporation, Fernando Vio, stressed that "an adequate consumption of fruits and vegetables is saying at least 5 servings a day is a powerful protective factor against the coronavirus," while Isabel Zacarías, executive director of the 5 al Día Corporation, added that "the book shares experiences related to public policies, value chains and the benefits of the consumption of fruits and vegetables for the people and the environment of 11 countries."

The event was closed by Jorge O'ryan, General Director of ProChile, who referred to the contribution that Chile makes to the world through our mainly fruit exports, the way in which Chile contributes to global supply.