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Vitality food and lifestyle guidelines simplify the way to healthy nutrition

Press release   •   Jul 26, 2016 07:28 GMT

Vitality nutrition specialists, with partner Woolworths, heated up the HealthyFood Studio for a taste of what good food choices that easily fit into your life look like.

A key part of being healthy, is the food and drinks you have daily. Vitality’s nutrition specialists stay up to date and engage with local and international stakeholders on the latest in food and nutrition science, and combines best practice into guidelines Vitality encourages people to follow for good health.

“Healthy eating need not be boring. For us it’s about showing that healthy nutrition is a combination of things, not just looking at specific vitamins and other nutrients. It’s about knowing and making healthy choices daily for long-term benefits. So our focus is to show people what is good for health, what to reduce or avoid, to prepare meals from whole foods, and to highlight the importance of physical activity as part of a healthy life,” says Terry Harris, Dietitian at Discovery Vitality.

During an update session held on Friday, 22 July 2016, in the HealthyFood Studio at Discovery’s Sandton Campus, nutrition specialists from Vitality and Woolworths got together to share Vitality’s latest food and lifestyle guidelines that promote health.

Highlighting the fact that more than 60% of South African women and over 30% of South African males are obese or overweight, Harris said, “A goal for Vitality is to reach a 30% improvement towards the recommended intake of fruit and vegetables, and sugar and salt (sodium) by adult Vitality members by 2018.” This goal has even greater importance when considering that between now and 2030, it is estimated that there will be a 17% increase in deaths caused by chronic conditions related to lifestyle. This increase is spurred by four main risk factors – physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, smoking, and excessive alcohol intake – which account for 60% of deaths worldwide.

“The intake of sugar sweetened drinks, including fruit juice, increased by almost 69% since 1999 and the daily salt intake of South Africans is almost double that of the World Health Organization recommendations,” Harris said. Part of lowering salt, sugar and saturated fat intake, and increasing fruit and vegetable intake, is to prepare meals from whole foods at home. The HealthyFood Studio launched in partnership with Woolworths helps with this, building people’s skills to prepare meals that consider time, and are delicious and nutritious.

During discussions at todays’ nutrition update, Harris also emphasised Vitality’s support for initiatives that reduce non-communicable disease-related deaths. She says, “Regulations alone may not be enough to bring about the required change, and has to be accompanied by education and behaviour change initiatives.

“We are creating a nutrition ecosystem for Vitality members. Vitality offers information, benefits and tools that tell people what foods to choose, what to limit and what to do with a healthy eating plan. In this ecosystem, Vitality also guides its members when buying foods, and gives them recipes and ways to help them prepare meals.

“Along with giving people the guidelines to healthy nutrition, incentivising them for making healthier choices and giving them ways to build up meal preparation skills, we also aim to reach our 2018 goal,” Harris adds.

Vitality’s HealthyFood benefit incentivises people to make healthier food choices by giving members up to 25% cash back on selected healthy food items in partnership with Woolworths and Pick n Pay. By subsidising healthy food purchases and reinforcing healthy eating habits through innovations like the HealthyFood Studio, Discovery Vitality aims to help people make healthier dietary choices, and improve their health overall.

“Eating patterns with a high salt content have been linked to causing cardiovascular disease and stroke. Diets low in fruit in vegetable intake have also been associated with certain cancers, including stomach and colorectal cancer. By reducing the intake of ultra-processed foods, and rather eating fresh, whole and home-cooked foods, people can take their salt intake to acceptable levels, and easily reach the recommended vegetables and fruit intake. Reducing salt intake at a population level to the recommended 1 teaspoon a day can help reduce the pressure on the health system, and have large, positive public health effects Harris says about Vitality’s aim. Vitality’s current food guidelines take a total approach to eating patterns:

  1. Reducing sugar and salt intake (The World Health Organization recommends that adults eat less that 5g of salt (a teaspoon) a day; and a maximum of 25g of sugar a day)
  2. Eating unsaturated fats
  3. Eating wholegrains
  4. Eating plenty of plant-based, whole, fresh foods and less red meat
  5. Excluding ultra-processed foods
  6. Cooking at home, and
  7. Understanding the influence of family and social interaction on dietary patterns

These guidelines encourage choosing a variety of foods, and choosing food items that are whole or minimally processed, foods that are high in fibre, micronutrients and good energy, and low in added salt, certain fats and sugar.

“There is a big commitment from Woolworths to make the best products available, and to help educate and provide consumers with the knowledge to make better and sustainable food choices. Our partnership with Vitality in both HealthyFood and the HealthyFood Studio supports this and gives consumers quality ingredients and ways to create quick, easy meals that are also healthy and tasty,” says Cindy Chin, Dietitian at Woolworths.

Vitality’s nutrition specialists developed their total-approach nutrition strategy from current best practice. Vitality is focused on remaining relevant and providing guidance on dietary recommendations that can form part of everyday life, for life.

Note on the Discovery Vitality HealthyFood Studio:

Fresh, seasonal ingredients, real nutrition and sustainable eating all come together with a dash of delicious as part of the Discovery Vitality HealthyFood Studio – proudly launched in partnership with Woolworths and Prue Leith Chefs Academy. 

Discovery information

About Discovery Limited

Discovery Limited is a South African-founded financial services organisation that operates in the healthcare, life assurance, short-term insurance, savings and investment products and wellness markets. Founded in 1992, Discovery was guided by a clear core purpose – to make people healthier and to enhance and protect their lives. Underpinning this core purpose is the belief that through innovation, Discovery can be a powerful market disruptor.

The company, with headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, has expanded its operations globally and currently serves over 5 million clients across South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, China, Singapore and Australia. Discovery recently partnered with Generali, a leading insurer in Europe, and has partnered with John Hancock in the US. These new partnerships will bring Discovery’s shared-value business model to protection industries in Europe and the US.

Vitality, Discovery’s wellness programme, is the world’s largest scientific, incentive-based wellness solution for individuals and corporates. The global Vitality membership base now exceeds three million lives in five markets.

Discovery is an authorised financial services provider and trades under the code “DSY” on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange. 

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