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How malnutrition hinders a child’s future

By Gabriel Olawale

An Associate Professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, University of Ibadan, Dr. Rasaki Sanusi, has warned that lack of good nutritional intake for pregnant women and in the first 1000 days of life for a child, tends to have lasting negative impact on development of the child.

Sanusi, who spoke during the annual symposium of the Association of Nutrition Science Students, University of Ibadan,  organised in partnership with Coca-Cola, said inadequate nutrition intake would  not only affect the health of the child, but  place such child at disadvantage.

He said any effort to correct such abnormality in future would amount to applying the brake after an accident.

“Poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, impaired physical and mental development and reduced productivity, such child will fall sick more often than normal and their ability to learn will be reduced.

“The teacher will talk, the children would hear, but they would not understand because their brain is not working well to appreciate and assimilate what ther are hearing.”

The nutritionist said it has been estimated that 50 percent of mobility in children can be linked to malnutrition which means that in children and infants that are dying, half wouldn’t have died but for malnutrition.

In 2014, the National Population Commission stated that 37 percent of children under five are stunted while 21 percent are severely stunted. Children in rural areas are more likely to be stunted (43 percent) compared to those in urban areas (27 percent) and children in poorest households are three times more likely to be stunted (54 percent) compared to those from wealthiest households (18 percent).

Sanusi explained that inadequate or excess nutritional intake can also lead to different types of malnutrition in adults.  “That is why we preach moderation. If something is not enough, it is inadequate. When we eat too much, and become obese, that is, heavier than we should be, indeed it attracts more diseases.”

Earlier, the Head of Department, Human Nutrition, University of Ibadan, Dr Folake Samuel, noted that having access to nutritious food is vital to ending the self sustaining cycles of extreme poverty, “Better-nourished individuals constitute the bedrock of a nation that respects human rights and strives for high labour productivity.”

Samuel said good nutritional intake for under-fives, adolescents and pregnant women is critical because poor nutrition in the first five years and during pregnancy has devastating and irreversible effects which perpetuate poverty cycles. “Enhancing nutrition will break very harmful and yet preventable poverty transfers,” she avowed.

On his part, the Community Affairs Officer, Coca-Cola, Mr. Emeka Mba said as a beverage company and industry leader, Coca Cola is committed to promoting long term awareness in the community.

“Coca-Cola is committed to fora where knowledge gap is bridged and our belief in transparency informed our decision to be the first beverage company to publish the content of our products before others follows.

“Adherence to responsible marketing is another aspect, not marketing our brand in an audience where you have children below 12 years,” he argued.


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