President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR

How poor nutrition causes nearly 80 percent of diseases affecting Nigerian consumers

*Understanding linkage between what people eat and their health is key determinant of longevity, ability, capability, income, and general well-being ─Malam Mohammed Sani-Hassan, Nutrition expert

*Muhammadu Buhari outlines his administration’s measures in preventing food crisis amid COVID-19 pandemic 

*Hikes in foodstuff prices last only for a little while, says Presidential Aide

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Health is wealth. The ultimate importance of good nutrition for healthiness and well-being of consumers has been re-emphasised.

Nutrition is described as “the process of absorbing nutrients from food and processing them in the body in order to keep healthy or to grow.”

The concept is sometimes called the science of foods, or the minerals, vitamins, and other nourishing substances that they contain and their effects on human health

Experts say when consumers lack the right and essential food combinations in appropriate quality and quantity, all manner of diseases thus affect their health and happiness as a people.

Malam Mohammed Sani-Hassan, a nutritionist, stressed this much recently when he disclosed that about 80 percent of diseases affecting Nigerians are diet-related and can be curbed with good dietary knowledge and attitude.

Sani-Hassan, a former Vice-President of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, stated this in a an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria Friday, September 11, 2020, in Kaduna, Kaduna State capital.

The nutrition expert identified some of the diet-related Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) to include diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease and obesity.

Why eating right is important   Photo: BabyPrepping

A significant number of Nigerians were not aware of the linkage between what they eat and their health, said Malam Sani-Hassan.

According to him, such ignorance is largely responsible for the frightening increase in the number of diet-related diseases among both the young and the older population, especially since the outbreak of the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic in the country.

The nutrition expert said that “people eat what they want to eat to show evidence of healthy life, while others erroneously think that becoming obese is a display of living well.

“Some people erroneously link the prevalence of diabetes and hypertension to income and wealth, meaning the richer you are, the more oily, sugary, and junk foods you consume.

However, he posited that “on the contrary, these diseases are increasing at an alarming rate because people are ignorant about what they eat and the relationship between what they eat and their health.

“The human body has a minimum nutrients intake which should be provided, and excess of the nutrients could put one at risk of developing diet-related diseases.”

He also attributed the development to the fact that most consumers have a culture of excessive eating, saying “if you work less, you should eat less; if you work a lot, you should eat more.

“However, wealthy people are eating three to five times a day and mostly without physical activity, while 70 to 80 percent of food prepared for school children are oily and sugar-based drinks.”

The one-time Vice-President of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria rather urged consumers to watch their weight, check what they eat, when they should eat, how to eat, and go for regular checkups to close the gap, report said.

According to him, Kaduna is among the seven states in the country with the highest prevalence of some of the diet-related diseases, including diabetes and hypertension.

Sani-Hassan, therefore, emphasised the need for a public health component that should focus on what the population needed to know about what they should eat, how they should eat, and when they should eat.

Understanding the linkage between what people eat and their health is a key determinant of longevity, ability and capability, as well as income and general well-being, said the expert.

He urged “the government must put structures in place that will provide quality education and information on age-appropriate diet requirements and eating habits.”

ConsumerConnect reports that in connection with the comparatively poor nutritional condition of millions of Nigerians in recent times, President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday at the National Food Security Council meeting in Abuja, FCT, also related how his administration has helped to prevent a food crisis amid the Coronavirus pandemic through investment in agriculture.

Buhari, in a statement by Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to President on Media and Publicity, said: “In the last five years, we have recorded notable achievements.

“Despite the decline in GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by 6.1 percent in Q2 of 2020 as a direct result of Coronavirus, the agricultural sector continued to grow because of government targeted policies.”

In a pseudo agreement with nutritionist Sani-Hassan on the essential need for government’s direct involvement in enhancing the nutritional value of what and how Nigerians eat to keep living, President Buhari stated that there is a need for more effort at boosting food productions and self-sufficiency in Nigeria.

The statement further indicates Buhari assured the people that the Federal Government would continue to promote policies that favour investments in the agricultural sector of the economy.

He said: “To protect agricultural investments and boost confidence to our farmers we have deployed thousands of agro-rangers and integrated rural communities to the formal economy by extending access to credit and inputs to rural farmers and building feeder roads.

“We have invested in building our strategic grain reserves in recent years which we recently released significant quantities to cushion the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to vulnerable households and industries.’’

Meanwhile, in view of the current skyrocketing prices of foodstuffs and other daily necessities of life in the country, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff (CoS) to the President, has said that the hikes in prices of food items should be seen as a transient situation.

Prof. Gambari, who also spoke during the national Food Security Council meeting, said the recent prices of grains showed a significant decline, which he noted suggests that the decrease would soon be reflected across the country as new products are brought into the market.

The CoS to the President stated that the National Food Security Council met with the agricultural commodity association to ascertain the root causes of the recent spikes in food prices and craft mitigating strategies to what could be a potential crisis in the economy.

He said: “Although various concerns were raised on the root cause of the increase in commodity cost, we have been informed that prices are actually on the decline as new grains have been introduced to the market.

“For example, new maize which was previously sold for N25,000 per bag is now being sold between N12,000 and N17,000, and it’s expected to fall between N7,000 and N8,000 per bag by November 2020, according to the various leaders of the agricultural commodity association.

“The price decline has also been experienced in millet, beans, and sorghum. The hike, therefore, is to be seen as a transient situation.

“However, it is important to note that the most prevailing concern of the various leaders of the agricultural commodity association was their demand that there should be better coordination, synergy, and cooperation across the sector.

“This has largely accounted for the gross misinformation and nationwide speculation which is being experienced.

He equally referenced the impacts of other value triggers, such as the cyclical off-season period phenomenon, the COVID-19 pandemic, and infrastructure challenges, saying, “the importance of collaboration can still not be overemphasised,” report says.

The diplomat said it is high time the country focused attention and resources on how it can improve yield per hectare, even as key actors in the agric space are championing increased hectares under cultivation.

This new shift, according to Gambari, will be a significant boost in the government’s determination to strengthen its objective in achieving food security for Nigerians.

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