Encouraging communities across Africa to create healthier meals

Unilever joined international nutrition experts at the recent African Nutrition Epidemiology Conference (ANEC) to discuss the challenges of improving African diets and encouraging behaviour change around health and well-being.

A global gathering

The ANEC – which ran from 21 to 25 July in Accra, Ghana – brought together around 300 academics and nutrition professionals as well as representatives from organisations such as the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and the International Food Policy Research Institute.

Unilever sponsored two speakers at the event. Professor Marius Smuts from North-West University in South Africa spoke on the importance of the amount and type of fat in people’s diets. Gladys Mugambi from Kenya’s Ministry of Health talked about the country’s fortification programme.

Our Nutrition and Health Manager for the region, Nazeeia Sayed, presented on the South African salt reduction behaviour change workshop, which was part of a global series jointly organised by the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) and Unilever.

Making popular dishes healthier and tastier

As part of our work to help spark a change in eating habits across Africa, we launched a Tastes of Africa recipe book for which Unilever chefs and nutritionists worked together to produce versions of popular dishes that taste as good as, or even better than, the originals.

Each recipe is accompanied by clear nutrition information and includes tips on how to make it even healthier by simple additions or substitutions to improve the nutrition quality.

Nazeeia says: “The recipe book gave us something around which to discuss the challenges of creating healthy, tasty meals in Africa and what we’re doing here in terms of our Sustainable Living Plan. It also showed how our brands can play a role in improving health and nutrition, and contribute to Unilever’s goal of helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by making their preferred food choice a more nutritious and tasty one.”

The book also contains information on Unilever’s work with smallholder farmers, our efforts to promote salt reduction behaviour change and local brand Royco’s partnership with Envirofit in Kenya to promote a clean energy charcoal cooking stove.

Renewing our partnership with IUNS

At the conference, Unilever also renewed its partnership with the IUNS. This partnership has, in the past, enabled us to be more effective and impactful through salt reduction behaviour change workshops and collaboration with members of the International Expert Movement on fats.

The partnership’s key focus for the immediate future will be capacity building of nutrition professionals to enable public health improvement programmes in a variety of countries.

IUNS President Anna Lartey said: “The IUNS partnership with Unilever helps to create opportunities for our young scientists. Capacity building for the next generation is the way to remain sustainable."

Download a copy of 'Tastes of Africa' (PDF | 6MB)

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