Nigerians urged to eat healthy

Gloria Essien, Abuja

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Eating is not complete if one does not eat right.

This was the general consensus reached at the Civil Societies Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, CS-SUNN, media briefing for World Food Day, held in Abuja.

The Executive Secretary of CS-SUNN, Mrs. Beatrice Eluaka, says, it is not enough to have food security but nutrition security is also very important.

Mrs Eluaka said that the World Food Day commemorated yearly, on 16th October by over 150 countries world over including Nigeria, is aimed at ”promoting worldwide awareness and action on the need to address hunger and ensure food security and nutritious diets for all.”

“It is a day set aside to celebrate the progress made towards reaching the Zero Hunger goal. It all brings to bear another opportunity for governments across the world to act on commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2-to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030,” she said.

According to her, as the World Food Day is observed globally, ”it is important to note that in spite of significant interventions in defeating malnutrition, the gains have slowed down in recent years, with an increase in the global undernourished population from 784 million in 2014 to nearly 821 million in 2017.

“A combination of unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles has sent obesity rates rising, not only in developed countries but also in low-income countries, where hunger and obesity often co-exist. Presently, over 670 million adults and 120 million girls and boys (5-19 years) are obese, over 40 million children under 5 are overweight, while over 820 million people suffer from hunger. Globally, obesity and other forms of malnutrition affect nearly one in three people.” 

”Nigeria has the highest burden of stunting in Africa and is the second highest in the world next to India. The country’s current nationwide childhood under-nutrition indicator stands at 37% stunting, 7% wasting and 23% underweight (NDHS, 2018),” Mrs Eluaka stated.

Nutritional status
She said that without ground-breaking strategies and cost-effective interventions, Nigeria’s nutritional status might remain abysmal especially for mothers and children, thus putting the country at risk of not achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger by 2030.

“Inadequate diet remains the leading risk factor for deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and certain cancers. A major cause of malnutrition and nutrition insecurity in Nigeria is poor Infant and Young Child Feeding practices. This results in high rates of childhood illnesses, poor cognitive development (leading to poor educational performance), poor workforce and in the long run, economic loss for the country. 

”Though the Nigerian Government has put in place interventions around Maternal Nutrition, Infant and Young Child Feeding, Management of Severe Acute Malnutrition in Children under five, Micronutrient Deficiency Control, Training on /distribution of and availability of Biofortified crops, Food fortification among others to address the burden of Malnutrition and Food insecurity, these disturbing statistics are an indication that a lot more still needs to be done to combat the scourge,” Mrs Eliaka said.

The Civil Society-Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) is, therefore, calling on governments at all levels to increase investments in nutrition and fully implement the National Multi-sectoral Plan of Action for food and Nutrition as this will improve nutrition interventions, nutrition education, address issues around breastfeeding friendly policies, help farmers diversify food production, guide public food procurement and regulations on food marketing, labelling and advertising policies among others.

The Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Mr. Oyeleke Oyinloye, said that Food is a necessity that everyone need to survive but nutritious food is even more necessary.

Eating healthy food
He encouraged Nigerians to eat healthy by embracing more locally produced foods and products.

”Food producers are also encouraged to give accurate information on their labels especially those targeted at children,” he stated.

In his goodwill message, the Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, Federal Capital Territory Council, Mr. Emmanuel Ogbeche, urged journalists to report more nutrition towards a healthy Nigeria.

Represented by the Secretary of Council, Ochiaka Ugwu, he commended CS-SUNN for educating Nigerians about healthy eating, saying that the NUJ would always assist in the education.

The theme of the 2019 World Food Day is ‘Our Actions are Our Future. Healthy Diets for a Zero Hunger World.’

 

Mercy Chukwudiebere