Fraser Health Targeting Fat-Heavy Diet Of South Asians To Improve Heart Health

Health authority says South Asian community has higher rates of chronic disease like Diabetes and heart disease. They have been working with these chefs at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara to provide healthier food.

SURREY – Fraser Health is targeting the fat-heavy diet of the local South Asian community to help improve heart health and reduce diabetes.

They are wrapping up its first year of working with the South Asian community to cut fat and sugar as part of an effort to reduce higher rates of heart disease and diabetes.

“When you look at South Asian culture, they enjoy their food, they enjoy their sweets, and so people are just used to high sugary food but they don’t understand the repercussions of that,” said Deljit Bains, manager of the South Asian Health Institute, reported CBC News.

“South Asians are two to three times more prone to get chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. It’s important that we … work with the community to share that knowledge.”

Bains said the higher rate of chronic disease is partly because of genetics, and partly due to health behaviours.

To achieve its goals, the health authority initiated its efforts in the heart of the community: in its gurdwaras and temples.

The Apnee Sehat program partnered with seven temples in Surrey, Delta, New Westminster and Abbotsford over the last year.

It provided education sessions, hosted promotional booths, and trained 30 volunteers to provide health information.

Also, as part of the program, health workers collaborated with temples to cut some of the sugar and fat they use in their cooking in otherwise healthy dishes like dhal and chana.

“Normally you would see oil floating on top,” said Bains, pointing to a cauldron of steaming curried chickpeas at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, which serves up to 500 people per day.

“But now you can barely see that there’s any oil.”

Even the temple’s chai, a staple served with South Asian meals, isn’t as sweet as before — sugar has been cut down 25 per cent. It has also swapped full fat milk for its reduced fat counterpart.

Food wasn’t the only focus of the Apnee Sehat program. Fraser Health said it also worked with community partners to provide flu shots, exercise coaching, and mental health counselling.

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