Washington, April 14 : A special report on the health conditions in Cuba during the "Special Period"-the period of economic and social hardship that the country experienced after the collapse of the Soviet Union-highlights the association between sustained population-wide weight loss and a decline in mortality rates from all causes.
Published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the report suggests that during the economic crisis Cuba experienced in the 1990s, energy intake per capita gradually decreased to 1863 kcal/d from 2899 kcal, and the proportion of physically active adults increased from 30 to 67 per cent.
The authors of the report write that such changes affected the whole population, and were sustained for almost five years.
The phenomenon resulted in widespread modest weight loss, and a decline in all-cause mortality and rates of death from diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
According to the authors, the study's results suggest that health policies aimed at population-wide weight loss may benefit countries where more than half the population is either overweight or obese, such as Canada and the US.
They point out that population changes should be made at all social and political levels-including provincial, territorial and municipal levels as well as at schools, workplaces and households.
The report suggests that the positive health benefits may be achieved by increasing the availability of fruits and vegetables.
It also recommends decreasing the availability and increasing the prices of high-energy foods, and promoting walking and bicycling as means of transportation.