Eating habits change in Azerbaijan

7 August 2015 15:13 (UTC+04:00)

By Nigar Orujova

Do we eat to live or live to eat? This is a tricky question, since delicious Azerbaijani cuisine leaves no option but to devote one’s life to enjoying it.

However, there are norms that people need to keep in mind to stay healthy.

The daily recommended intake of food of middle-aged men with an average range of mobility and exercise should be no more than 1,500-2,000 kilocalories a day, doctor of endocrinology Salim Akhadov told local press.

“In particular, women should consume 1,500-1,800 kcal, and men, 1,700-2,000 kcal,” he believes.

However, the majority of Azerbaijani citizens does not keep to these diet regulations and consume much more than that.

“The problem is that the population prefers flour dishes, including cakes, national pastry, biscuits, and worse and more harmful potato chips. Moreover, people love to cook, adding as much oil as possible. This leads to a much greater consumption of calories a day,” Akhadov said.

Azerbaijani cuisine is rich in calories, but during the era that it was first created and developed, people were more active, and used the high caloric intake properly. Nowadays, people especially in cities, prefer sedentary lifestyles, which is bad not only from the point of food consumption, but also for health in general.

Akhadov said the main problem is not how many calories a person consumes in a day, but how many of them he or she can burn for that day. When they are not burnt, food intake rich in calories leads to obesity.

“In large metropolitan areas including Azerbaijan, the citizens are mostly inactive. They prefer automobiles and realize a little physical exertion. This slows down the process of fat burning and leads to further cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” warns the doctor.

There is no single international norm for caloric consumption, as it is a very personal issue. However, some countries make their own health recommendations. For instance, the UK recommends the average adult male to consume no more than 2,500 calories a day and an average adult female no more than 2000 calories. In the U.S., the norm is 2,800 for men and 2,200 for women.

Nariman Agayev, the Chairman for Research at the Sustainable Development Center, believes that the daily norm depends on the country, national cuisine, the culture of food consumption, climate, and health.

“Azerbaijanis did not eat less, but began to work harder. I think the usual rate for the majority of Azerbaijanis is 2,500-2,700 calories a day, like in the army. Those who are not working and not doing exercise, should eat less, about 2,000 calories,” he said to local press.

On the contrary, he added, those who partake in in regular daily exercise, should eat more than ordinary citizens should.

Being that the Health Ministry often speaks of obesity in the local population, Agayev noted that a small portion of citizens still consume a lot more calories than necessary per day.

Statistical data for the past seven years shows that the Azerbaijani population has begun to consume more potatoes, vegetables, and fruits, as well as meat and fish, while preferring to eat less bread.

Bread consumption has decreased by 12 percent, while consumption of meat increased by 15.7 percent, potatoes by 26 percent, fruits by 35.5 percent, and vegetables by 32 percent in 2007-2013.

Eating habits are an indication of a nation's prosperity and culture. Azerbaijan's national cuisine has always been balanced and healthy and we need to keep it so for future generations to be healthy and prosperous.

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Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar

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