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Disseminating quality controlled scientific knowledge

Besin Rehberleri: Beslenme Eğitiminde Görsel Bir Araç

Author(s): Nazan AKTAŞ

Journal: Selcuk Universitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitusu Dergisi
ISSN 1302-1796

Issue: 25;
Start page: 11;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Food Guides | Nutrition Education | Nutrition

This review article is an attempt to examine the objectives, properties, development process and dissemination of food guides.To remain healthy and to prevent diseases, diet and healthy lifestyle are regarded to be the fundamental components. Whilemalnutrition-related health problems resulting from protein-energy malnutrition, inadequate intake of vitamin and minerals arestill remain to be the most important nutrition problems in some parts of the world, the spread of non-contagious but chronicdiseases such as obesity, type II diabetes and hypertension is increasing rapidly all over the world. The call for duty by WorldHealth Organization and Food Agriculture Organization to governments about Food Based Dietary Guidelines so that societiesin general and individuals can be educated about adequate and balanced nutrition and improve their food pattern and makehealthy food choices has played a significant role in development of Food Based Dietary Guidelines and food guide. Althoughfamilies and societies are being taught about food and nutrition since the beginning of humanity, it is considered that formalnutrition education was introduced with the publication of food guides prepared by governments based on the findings ofnutrition science. A food guide is the pictorial illustration of the amount and type of food items to be consumed so thatcommunity can understand easily. A great many food guides were developed in the 20th century to explain foods and newsuggestions for nutrition and support adequate and balanced nutrition. Grouping of food items and their illustration in pyramid issignificant in the development process of food guides. In the mid of 1950’s, a new food guide was released by United StatesDepartment of Agriculture nutrition specialists, which became widely known as the “Basic Four” recommended a minimumnumber of foods from each of four food groups: milk, meat, fruits and vegetables, and grain products. United States Departmentof Agriculture published a Food Guide Pyramid which depicts a hierarchical dietary pattern to help people apply the Guidelines totheir own diets in 1992. The pyramid recommends daily food serving from the grain, vegetable, and fruit groups, with fewerserving from the milk and meat groups, and even fewer from foods high in fat and sugar. In the symbolic expression of foodguides a variety of visuals such as pictures, graphics, posters and diagrams are used. The main aim in the development of guides isto improve healthy nutrition by providing people guidelines to choose healthy food and to take all food at adequate and balancedamounts for growth and for the prevention of nutrition related health problems. However, food guides also serves to other endsby being practical guide for nutrition education programs, by helping consumers understand the essentials of nutrition andcontributing the development of healthy nutrition and meal planning. For food guides to reach these objectives, they are to bebased on scientific nutrition knowledge, their qualitative and quantitative messages are to be easily understood, and they are to becountry-specific, culturally acceptable, variety of foods, proportioned and to allow for nutritional needs and eating habits and toinclude recommended daily food types and amount. Furthermore, they are to make optimum nutrition suggestions and be basedon the results of nutrition and health research results. For cultural acceptability, the symbols of the food guide are to be chosen bythe individuals who represent the community the guide addresses to. Individuals who work in this process are to make theirchoices among the graphics drawn by national or local graphic artists by using cultural elements and by asking the followingquestions: “which one of these graphics make you think of your country?” and “In which one of these graphics would you likedaily food groups to be presented?”. In the development of food guides, some complex issues such as to what extent and whichcriteria they are to meet emerge These criteria include: the extend food guides reflect food availability and eating habits, and serve as a strategic means fornutrition education, and the extent they are understood and accepted by the society and reflect sustainable food consumption. Inrecent years, the number of food guides has been increasing but the basic aim and rationale behind them is not completelyunderstood by the society as intended by their developers. It is known that there are problems related with the understanding ofquantitative (the portion of foods) and qualitative (food groups, food diversity) information in food guides. The essential in foodguides are recommended to be updated every five years so that latest findings in nutrition science and food and nutrition policiestally with. When food guides all over the world are examined, it is seen that differences in food intake, sources and nutritionsituations, habits and requirements of societies make it necessary to develop country-specific food guides. Although the shape,food grouping and the recommendations included in formally accepted food guides of different countries vary, their commontarget is to disseminate scientific knowledge about food and eating habits to larger masses by converting them into basic concepts.Countries develop or update the food guides suitable for their societies based on the results of the studies they carry out todetermine food availability, eating condition and eating standards. Although various graphics such as circles, tables and dishes areused as the food guide symbols, pyramid is a popular means of illustration in food guides since the early 1990. In order to delivermessages to society about healthy nutrition, four-leaf clover is used in Turkey, healthy food dish is used in the UK, threedimensionalfood pyramid is used in Germany, food guide Pagoda is used in China, rainbow is used in Canada, food flag inThailand, and Japanese Food Guide Spinning Top is used in Japan. To increase the efficiency of education studies, food guidesare to be developed for gender, age groups and special conditions. In many countries, the development and dissemination of foodguides are handled within the scope of nutrition policies. In the development of food guides brochures, posters, leaflets, slights,advertisements, course books, food packages, cooking books, toys, specially designed computer games, means of press and massmedia are used. Schools, public education centers, public health centers, sport halls, institution which provide catering services,restaurants, dormitories and school cafeterias, inner city transportation vehicles, religion centers are the most important places forthe dissemination of food guides. Health professionals, especially dieticians and nutritionists, teachers, lecturers have importantroles to play for the delivery of messages to the society.As a result, food guides which provide guidance to society and individuals about healthy nutrition, optimal food choice, mealplanning are also means of education in nutrition education activities. Establishment of interdisciplinary cooperation in thedevelopment of food guides is crucial for the solution of the difficulties met in the process and for the accomplishment of theobjectives. All professionals who work for the development of a healthy nutrition and lifestyle in the society are to make studiesto raise awareness about food guides. For a successful dissemination, public and privates institutions, education and food sectorare to cooperate.

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