(By Temitope Obayendo)
President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), Professor Ngozi Nnam, has said that contrary to popular belief, the prevalence of malnutrition and related diseases in the country has little to do with its financial capacity.
Speaking with Pharmanews in an exclusive chat, Professor Nnam, who is also Head of Department, Human Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, noted that neither affluence nor penury makes a nation feed well, but adequate knowledge of what should comprise the daily diet of its citizens.
The dietician condemned the feeding pattern of most families in Nigeria, noting that even children from wealthy families suffer malnutrition nowadays, due to monotonous diets.
According to her, “The socio-economic situation is not the major problem but lack of nutrition knowledge. Individuals should be educated on how to select and combine foods within the limits of their resources. Nutritionally, adequate diet is not necessarily an expensive diet but diet that contains all the food nutrients in adequate quantity and quality.”
Nnam further advised that, in order to prevent chronic degenerative diseases which set in later in life, people should regularly feed on diets that contain all food nutrients in adequate quantity and quality.
She also recommended more consumption of living foods, especially fruits and vegetables, increase in fibre intake, which helps in blood sugar control, and a reduction in salt, sugar and oils to the barest minimum.
“As people grow older, there is decrease in the functioning of their organs. This calls for reduced intake of sugar, fats and oil and increased intake of fruits and vegetables,” she noted.
Reiterating the essence of nutritional education in the society, the university don stressed that nothing can remedy poor diet than the knowledge of knowing the right things to feed on and the right sources of the substances.
“That poor woman in the village should be encouraged to include the fruits and vegetables that are most times found wanting in the family meal to make for adequate diet,” she counselled, adding that “judicious combination of locally available foods in villages and towns within the limit of family resources could give nutritionally adequate diet.”