A Consultant Family Physician, Dr Oluwajimi Sodipo, says food insecurity is a major contributory factor affecting the incidence of malnutrition in Nigeria.
Sodipo, who works at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), made this known when he spoke against the backdrop of the 2019 International Children’s Day of Broadcasting (ICDB) marked annually on March 3.
The theme is: “End Malnutrition: Protect the Future of the Nigerian Child.”
Sodipo said: “When we are talking about malnutrition, there is a spectrum; some people are under-nourished, while some are actually over-nourished. It is very difficult for people to actually get the type of food that they need on either form of the spectrum. For those under-nourished, they cannot get the basic foods they need including protein, fats, and carbohydrates; so that they can actually get to the weight they should be, to help them live healthy lifestyles and fight infections. Again, some group of people have less exposure to the right type of healthy lifestyle choices. For instance, if you are hungry, it is cheaper to buy foods that are not nutritious and will predispose you to obesity. It is more expensive to buy fruits and vegetables; the general problem is food insecurity in the country.”
The physician urged the government to develop a food policy that would address food insecurity by ensuring that healthy food choices were necessarily available all year round.
“What we see in Nigeria at certain periods of the year, depending on rainfall and other factors, you have situations where basic foods that you need and healthy lifestyle choices are not available. But, where they are available, they are very expensive; at other times of the year, the foods are actually available; in fact, in abundance and they now waste.
“We need to ensure that when those healthy food choices are available, they can be stored in such a way that they can actually get to everybody that needs it at the right time. By the time we have food security, the issue of variation in the prices of a lot of these common foods we actually need, will come to an end. Also, once there is price stability, people can actually eat those healthy food choices and make a lot of progress,“ the expert said.
He also said that there was need for people to be educated on the types of healthy food choices they could make.
According to him, education on healthy food choices has to be clear and constant; hence, there has to be a standard programme or information that everybody can benefit from.
“We need to appreciate the government with their school health programme which has helped many malnourished children who would not have been able to access some of the basic foods they need,” Sodipo said.