March 23, 2021

Unemployment, poor dietary practices escalating protein deficiency — REPORT

Unemployment, poor dietary practices escalating protein deficiency — REPORT

By Chioma Obinna

Despite efforts by the government and some private organizations to reduce malnutrition in the country, the latest Nigerian 2020 Protein Deficiency report has shown that poor dietary habits, unemployment, and poverty are escalating protein deficiency in Nigeria.

The new report released Thursday in Lagos also highlighted that the main nutritional problems in Nigeria are inadequate intake of proteins and micro-nutrients such as vitamin A, iron and iodine amongst other nutritional and health problems.

The report which was presented at the Protein Challenge Webinar Series 8 tagged: “The Nigerian Protein Deficiency Report: Unpacking the Numbers, Exploring the Issues”, stated that the reduction in purchasing power naturally leads to a lack of funds to buy nutritious foods.

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Presenting the report, a research analyst and Service Line Lead at IPSOS, Mr Obaro Agalabri argued that the lack of the job were a major factor fuelling protein deficiency. “The lack of jobs adds to pressure on consumers in a country where food prices rose more than 20 per cent year-on-year in January and authorities struggle to bring insecurity driven by violent insurgency attacks and kidnappings under control.

“The number of people looking for jobs will keep rising as population growth continues to outpace output expansion. Nigeria is expected to be the world’s third-most-populous country by 2050, with over 300 million people, according to the United Nations,

”The reduction in purchasing power inherently leads to a lack of funds to buy nutritious foods, as families resort to consuming cheap foods with low nutritional values.” he stated.

Citing the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, he explained that more than half of the labour force in Nigeria was unemployed; hence, it reduces the purchasing power of households.

In her presentation: “Exploring the issues behind protein deficiency in Nigeria”, Dr Beatrice Oganah-Ikujenyo of the Department of Home Economics, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education traced the main nutritional problems to socio-economic, cultural and political factors.

She identified as the core issues facing the alleviation of protein deficiency as poor knowledge of food and feeding habits, poverty, high cost of animal protein, culture/superstitions, high consumption of starch and children were rarely given large meat or fish portion.

Oganah–Ikujenyo said the report highlighted the specific obstacles and barriers hindering the reduction of protein deficiency in Nigeria, she said the report showed that carbohydrates like rice and pasta were the most consumed foods that appeared on the meal consumption patterns of Nigerians.

She said to tackle the protein challenge, Nigerians must begin to eat a protein-rich diet, especially children, pregnant and lactating mothers.
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