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Proteins: Expert seeks culture change to reduce malnutrition

A renowned public health expert and the Medical Director, PineCrest Specialist Hospital, Lagos, Dr. Omadeli Boyo, has called for cultural change in the country’s diet in order to help Nigerians realize the dangers and causes of malnutrition.
Boyo disclosed this at a webinar event entitled:‘Nigeria’s Food Culture and the Challenge of Protein Deficiency’ in Lagos recently, where he urged many Nigerians to start concentrating on eating meals rich in proteins for their good health and well being.
Boyo, who was the keynote speaker at the virtual event, described proteins as nutrients needed by the human body for growth and maintenance and also used in membranes, such as glycoproteins.
This, he said, would help to tackle the menace of malnutrition.
According to him, Nigeria’s per capita daily protein intake is estimated to be 45.4g according to a report, which falls short of the minimum 53.8g standard recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
He said that proteins were essential nutrients for the human body as they are one of the building blocks of body tissue that can also serve as a fuel source.
He called for increased and efficient production of improved foods that are rich in protein such as fish, poultry, animal and dairy products to address the shortfall and stunting growth rate of Nigerians.
Speaking on malnutrition, the medical expert explained that the World Health Organisation referred to malnutrition as deficiencies, excesses, or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients.
He noted that the term malnutrition addressed three broad groups of conditions.
The medical director stated that a healthy diet is a well balanced diet that contains a variety of nutritious foods, such as carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts and whole grains.
Speaking on dietary diversification in the country’s food industry, Boyo said that food is part of culture and is a reflection of the way of life of a people, adding that culture change can be very difficult and can only happen over time using various tools such as studies of the knowledge, attitude and practices of the various ethnic groups, collating and analyzing reports of impact of culture on health, among others
Boyo said: “Carbohydrates such as rice and garri form the most commonly consumed food in Nigeria. Beans has been identified by many authors as the most commonly consumed protein rich food outside of animal proteins such as chicken, turkey and beef.
“However these animal proteins can be classified as rare luxury items in the meals of most homes The cost of animal protein has made this class of food prohibitive. The lower middle and low socio-economic classes eat more of beans as protein source.”

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