Health, Fitness & Lifestyle Nigeria

Indigenous Foods, Cost-Effective Strategy For Solving Malnutrition.

Prevention of malnutrition using the food-based approach, including the adoption of indigenous foods, has been recognised as the most cost-effective strategy in solving protein deficiency in Nigeria.

Henrietta Ene-Obong, a Professor of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Calabar, speaking at a webinar hosted by Protein Challenge with the theme “Protein Deficiency: Bridging the Knowledge Gap” at the University of Calabar, said that protein deficiency, a form of malnutrition, now lingers in the country, most especially in adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women due to inadequacy in protein intake.

She stated that protein deficiency manifested as wasting and stunting in children and the 10th leading cause of death in Nigerians that accounted for 2.5 per cent of total deaths in the country.

According to her, although the incidence of wasting seems to have decreased in Nigeria, the incidence of stunting has not remained the same since 2013

The expert, however, linked the lingering protein deficiency in the nation to failure to address the multifactorial causes of malnutrition, including poor infant and young child feeding, poor utilisation of available food resources, low dietary diversity and poverty and low level of education.

Others are low level of nutrition education, failure to pay attention to ethnic differences in food habits and choices, household food insecurity and political instability and insecurity.

Professor Ene-Obong declared “there are many therapeutic means to solve the malnutrition challenge and a lot of resources have been devoted to them, but we need knowledge and capacity to apply what we know in order to face the challenges and overcome.

More focus should also be given to prevention strategies by appropriately utilising indigenous food resources which Nigeria is naturally endowed with. Food-based approaches are cost-effective if we are to stop protein-energy deficiency.”

Dr Ifeoma Akeredolu, a chief lecturer, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, YabaTech, said adopting a food-based approach to solving the protein deficiency challenge in Nigeria requires that Nigeria reviews its obsolete food-based dietary guidelines.

According to her, the review of the food-based dietary guidelines need to also take into consideration emerging issues and different protein-rich foods that are commonly available in different regions to ensure people can easy use the guideline to plan adequate family meals.

Dr Bimbo Oyedokun, a dentist and managing partner, QeuPlus Health services said signs of protein deficiency might be picked early in the mouth by a dentist and a reason that over time some people lose all their teeth and urged individuals to take up health insurance to ensure they could have early detection and treatment of their health challenges.

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