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The Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN) has stated that Nigerian remains one of the first 20 countries with the highest burden of malnutrition.
ccording to the society, the nutritional status of many Nigerians is still far from expected, as the prevalence of all forms of malnutrition remains high.
Speaking at the Nutrition Education Programme last week in Lagos, President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Prof Ngozi Nnam, quoting statistics, said about 37 per cent of Nigerian children were stunted, 29 per cent underweight and 18 per cent wasted while micronutrient deficiencies were also high.
According to her, “While we are grappling with the challenge of under nutrition, the incidence of obesity and related manifestations of over-nutrition are beginning to emerge at relatively significant levels.”
Nnam noted that nutrition is the bedrock of development and that for an individual to develop well that individual needs to be in the state of good nutritional status.
“And it’s only people that eat well, and combine their food well, and they are in the state of good nutritional status can reach their desire potentials in life, and will be able to make significant contribution to the development of the nation.”
She said: “Poverty rate is not the major cause of malnutrition in Nigeria because, most of these people we say are “poor”, around their environments, they have fruits that could really make them be in good nutritional status. The problem is not poverty, the problem is that they lack nutrition knowledge.
“Also let’s take fats and oil for instance: adding vegetable oil or fortified margarine improves the taste of our meals, gives us the feeling of satisfaction. I must also encourage Nigerians to ensure they consume foods that are fortified with essential micronutrients such as fortified margarine, iodized salt, fortified flours and others.
“It is important we clarify the dynamics of food intake and healthy weights. When we eat properly in ways that meet our daily energy and nutrient needs we maintain healthy weights? This means our food intake matches our daily nutrient needs considering our physiological requirements and physical activity levels,” she said.
Nnam noted that this is why NSN has taken the lead in partnership with Unilever, through the Blueband Social Mission to address nutrition education challenges in Nigeria.
Dr.Abimbola Ajayi, Director of Nutrition, Lagos State Ministry of Health noted that this is the way to go for Nigeria especially by National Development.
“We all know that, we are often been told that we are what we eat, and not just that, food is what makes you and Nutrition comes out of food and one thing we also know is that, if a person is not adequately nourished, the person is practically in no place to do much of anything,” he noted.
Ajayi said at the very immediate level, malnutrition results when our dietary intake is inadequate. This means not eating foods in the right quantity to match our physiological requirements and activity level, not having meals that can provide our daily nutrient needs in terms of energy, carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins and minerals, and water..
Victor Ajieroh, Nutrition and Health Manager, Unilever Nigeria, said, nutrition was a major focus area for Unilever and fitted into the objectives of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.
One goal of the Unilever Sustainable living Plan is to improve the health and wellbeing of over a billion people across the world and nutrition is a key pillar for achieving this.
“As a company, we are committed to creating a better future every day. We make people feel good, look good and get more out of life through our brands and services. We positively impact nutrition in Nigeria through our brands by building key nutrition considerations as what our brands deliver. We believe that brands can be powerful vehicles for change,” he said.
He said Unilever brands served as vehicles to reach Nigerians with many essential micronutrients.
“For instance, Blue Band is fortified with six Vitamins: Vitamins A, D, Folic acid, B2, B6 and niacin. By making fortified foods available to Nigerians, we help all families to meet their daily needs for these important nutrients. This is why it has the fortification logo and is also endorsed by the Nutrition Society of Nigeria,” he added.