Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Eating Healthy Starts with Fish, Says Chile’s First Lady



In partnership with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Chilean Sub-Secretariat for Fish has launched a collection of 46 seafood recipes, hoping to promote national consumption of Chilean seafood products through “tasty and healthy recipes.” Yesterday, at the Terminal Pesquero Metropolitano in Santiago, First Lady Cecilia Morel presented the cookbook that also was developed with Chefs contra el Hambre (Chefs against Hunger), a network of chefs and food critics dedicating to improving nutrition in Chile, especially among vulnerable populations.

Presented during Semana Santa—the holy week leading up to Easter Sunday celebrated in Catholicism—and as part of the government program Elige Vivir Sano (Choose to Live Healthy) led by Morel, the cookbook is part of a broader push on behalf of the Chilean government to combat obesity among its citizens and to encourage local consumption of natural resources. “In a society where obesity is a grave problem and fish are a national treasure, it’s very important that they be consumed locally,” said Morel.

A December study by the Catholic University of Chile and Banmedical Foundation found that 91 percent of Chileans have “poor” or “unhealthy” diets, with 63 percent eating more than the recommended amount of sweets and only 5 percent eating fish more than twice a week.

The cookbook is the fourth in a series published by Chefs contra el Hambre, following earlier ones dedicated to other elements of typical Latin American diets, including potatoes, beans and corn. It will be distributed for free at government fairs and in schools across the country and be made available online on the Sub-Secretariat’s website.

In a similar initiative, the Sub-Secretariat plans to implement in 2012 a nutrition intervention pilot project in Chilean high schools to increase students’ fish consumption.

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