Health

Malnutrition could limit growth, increase disease risks – Experts

In order to address the high incidence of malnutrition in the country, especially the gap in the inadequate consumption of proteins, stakeholders have recommended the empowerment of women as a strategy to curb the menace. While speaking on the challenge, a Clinical Physician and Public Health Expert, Adepeju Adeniran said that Africans generally fail to fortify their diets, adding that this practice has negative impact on the health of consumers. Speaking during the 3rd series of the Protein Challenge webinar tagged: “Empowering Women to Break the Cycle of Malnutrition in Nigeria: Reduce Malnutrition, Underweight and Hunger,’ Adeniran said that cultures that do not prioritise protein intake in their diet exhibited global stunting, inability to reach their growth potential and lack of resistance to some diseases.

In her presentation: “The Role of The Maternal Home Maker in delivering Domestic Nutrition Policies,” she said, “Protein malnutrition manifests in the age groups differently. “In children under-5, mild cases can show up as an increased propensity to infections, abnormalities in skin and eye health, poor hair development while more extreme conditions include conditions such as kwashiorkor and marasmus.

“Protein Energy Malnutrition in children has also been linked to a higher risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in adulthood.” In her keynote speech, Ibiyemi Olayiwola, Professor of Human Nutrition, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), stated that malnutrition was also a pandemic occurring globally, much like the COVID-19 pandemic, that adversely affected men, women and children. She said: “Our leaders should give enough attention to nutrition because without nutrition, there cannot be economic growth.” She added that once a woman is educated and informed, she can make proper decisions about nutrition.

Olayiwola called on the government to look into the affairs of women, as they play a vital role in meal planning and food choices. On her part, a nutritionist and member, Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), Mrs. Josephine Mensah Chukwunweike urged governments to pay more attention to nutrition for meaningful development. She said, “Proteins are excellent for growth and development. Proteins like soybeans increase the foliates and nutrients in the body. They are also good for pregnant and lactating mothers.” Chukwunweike noted that where animal proteins are expensive; so it is advisable to go for plant proteins.

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