Call edition 2012
A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.
Mrs Bangana’s work documents the effect of water-soluble dietary fibres on blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood lipids. These dietary fibres come from okra (Hibiscus esculentus), a vegetable commonly eaten in Senegal and found in most African countries. 29 participants, who were also their own controls, received a savoury pastry twice a day which contained 11 grams of fibres and were asked to add it to their normal diet for a period of three weeks. During the three-week control period they were given a pastry without dietary fibres. Over this relatively short period of time, the researchers were able to show that total cholesterol levels fell, with a larger decrease in LDL-cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and a smaller decrease in HDL-cholesterol (the ‘good’ cholesterol). During the study period, the participants’ weight reduced slightly and their body mass index improved. Diastolic and systolic blood pressure fell by 1 percent, which could have a fairly significant impact at the public health level.
This study demonstrates the importance of diet in maintaining health and the findings are significant when we consider the rapid international increase in obesity. This increase has resulted in an almost epidemic rise in diabetes, hypertension and chronic disorders in both Western and developing countries. One of the underlying causes is a change in eating patterns, shifting from the traditional diet to a more Western diet. The fact that okra has this effect should provide a stimulus to preserve traditional diets and to further study the health benefits of existing local foodstuffs. The results of this study, however, are based on a relatively small group and further studies will be necessary in order to confirm these extremely encouraging results.
report: Prof. P. Kolsteren, Department of Public Health, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium