Yangyel Lhaden

In an attempt to inculcate healthy dietary habits among the Bhutanese, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering launched a social media campaign ‘Healthy Drukyul’ yesterday.

The campaign urges people to switch their choice of staple diet or replace rice with vegetables, buckwheat, ground dried corn, or quinoa at least once a day.

An official from the Prime Minister’s office said that the timely intervention would make the Bhutanese less vulnerable to Covid-19 and improve their health but would also help revive the economy by reducing the dependence on imports.

Bhutan imported Nu 9B worth of rice last year. If Bhutanese could reduce rice consumption by one-third, it would mean a saving of Nu 3B.

Through this campaign, messages on healthy dietary habit through text, video and audio would be shared on the campaign’s social media platforms.

Lyonchhen and the experts on nutrition, agriculture and economy would disseminate messages and share tips on healthy eating. The campaign would also engage social media influencers to disseminate the information.

Exciting activities, for example, include one month no rice challenge, hashtag green on Tuesday, and individual’s weight loss at the end of the month. The entries would be posted on the campaign’s Facebook page.

“Lyonchhen is a fitness enthusiast and being a medical practitioner is always passionate about health-related topics,” the official said.

In a statement on Prime Minister’s Facebook page, Lyonchhen stated that his growing concern for lifestyle diseases grew when borders closed. He stated that the current scenario presented with all the reasons to revisit out dietary habits, be it health or country’s economy.

“Rice continues to be a staple, likewise potatoes even among the Bhutanese. Our curries are sauced in oil. We’re all aware our diet was unhealthy but our dietary habit was etched in our culture which made many Bhutanese refuse to change their dietary habits,” Lyonchhen wrote.

Non-communicable diseases (NCD) are one of the major public health issues in the country.

A nationwide World Health Organisation STEPS Survey last year on risk factors for NCD showed that Bhutanese are exposed to varied risk factors: 33.5 percent were overweight; 28 percent had raised blood pressure; 1.9 percent had raised blood sugar, and 86.4 percent of them were not consuming the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables.