The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), said on Thursday that 49 percent of children under the age of five in the country do not grow well as they are either stunted, wasted or overweight.

UNICEF Nigeria said this in a statement and added that malnutrition remains a major public health and development concern in the country.

It said breastfeeding can save lives but regretted that only 27 percent of children under six months of age were exclusively breastfed and an increasing number of children were fed infant formula.

“This means many Nigerian children are missing out on the life-saving benefits of breastmilk which is a baby’s first vaccine and offers the best possible nutrition at the start of life,” the organisation said in the statement.

UNICEF warned that poor eating and feeding practices started from the earliest days of children’s life put them at risk of poor brain development, weak learning, low immunity, increased infections and, in many cases death.

It said the malnutrition level in the country should be tackled and appealed to the government, private sector, donors, parents, families, and businesses to help children grow healthy.

It said that the government, in particular, should do this by investing more resources in interventions aimed at preventing malnutrition among young children and supporting treatment when prevention fails, supporting nursing mothers to adequately feed and care for their children.

It also advocated the empowering of families, children, and young people to enable them to “demand nutritious food, including improving nutrition education and using proven legislation such as sugar taxes to reduce demand for unhealthy foods.” (NAN)


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