Public Health Nutritionist at the Department of Health Melanie Furbert, President of the Bermuda Dieticians Association and Clinical Dietician for the Bermuda Hospitals Board Tony Ward and the Minister of Health, the Hon. Zane De Silva, JP, MP are pictured next to the EatWell Plate. The plate was produced to help achieve the principles of the new daily dietary guidelines for Bermuda. <em>*Photo supplied</em><br />
Public Health Nutritionist at the Department of Health Melanie Furbert, President of the Bermuda Dieticians Association and Clinical Dietician for the Bermuda Hospitals Board Tony Ward and the Minister of Health, the Hon. Zane De Silva, JP, MP are pictured next to the EatWell Plate. The plate was produced to help achieve the principles of the new daily dietary guidelines for Bermuda. *Photo supplied

WEDNESDAY, MAR. 14: Bermudian consumption of fruit and vegetables is “staggeringly low”, Health Minister Zane De Silva said today.

Only eight per cent of islanders eat the recommended five or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day, while 40 per cent of the average food budget is made up of convenience foods — which are often loaded with fat, salt and sugar.

Mr De Silva said: “Poor diet and physical inactivity are linked to major causes of illness and death.

“Furthermore, it is clear that healthy eating patterns and regular physical activity are essential for normal growth and development and for reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

“To correct these problems, many Bermudians must make significant changes in their eating habits and lifestyles.”

Mr De Silva was speaking as he launched Eat Well Bermuda: Bermuda’s Daily Dietary Guidelines.

The guidelines aim to increase knowledge about healthy eating and use a visual representation of the variety and proportion of food needed to maintain health.

In addition, the Ministry of Health has developed the “Eat Well Plate” — which has recommendations for each meal based on age and gender.

According to the 2011 health survey, more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, while more than a third reported high cholesterol.

A total of 37 per cent said they had hypertension or high blood pressure, while 11 per cent of those surveyed said they had diabetes — which is linked to poor diet and weight problems.

But just over half said they took “moderate physical activity” three times a week.

Mr De Silva said: “These guidelines are by no means a prescription for chronic diseases, however chronic diseases can be prevented by adopting these healthy eating guidelines within a healthy lifestyle which includes exercising regularly and drinking water frequently.”

The guidelines were drawn up by the Department of Health, the Bermuda Hospitals Board and the Bermuda Dieticians’ Association.