Poverty affects the lifestyle options of people living in Africa. In particular, a healthier diet is more expensive than commonly consumed food, leading many African families with insufficient funds to eat unbalanced meals.
Most families do not know the effects of particular foods on the bodies and minds of their children. Often, people eat what they can find or afford without taking the time to evaluate the food’s quality.
The benefits of a healthy diet for African children are that it can help eliminate undernutrition and unbalanced nutrition, two of the most common phenomena in Africa.
Many children develop undernutrition-related diseases, such as stunted growth and diarrhea. These diseases can lead to premature death all because of a lack of access to quality food.
Eating Lifestyle in Traditionally Rural African Families
Food is fundamental as it affects the physical, emotional and mental well-being of an individual. For this reason, balanced nutrition is important and should include all the substances needed for optimal health. Despite this, iron deficiency anemia and acid folic deficiency are two of the most common diseases in Africa.
In general, individuals in African societies eat more grain foods; however, they only eat one fruit per day, on average. It is common for African to consume soups and green bananas or plantains; certain cereals such as millet, sorghum, teff and maize and roots and tubers such as cocoyam, cassava and yams as part of their daily nutrition.
Despite being nutritious to some extent, the issue is with the frequency of the meals in a day and the distribution of food quantity within families.
In a traditional rural family, the main meal is dinner. That means that, in most families, children skip breakfast. In addition, when having dinner, a scale of hierarchy comes in place. The elderly gets the most food and meat while the children only receive the remaining part of what the male adults don’t eat. This can result in undernutrition or malnutrition for children.
Causes of Unbalanced and Unhealthy Nutrition for African Children
Food insecurity seems to be linked to many political, sociological and economic elements. Wars, drought, “floods and economic downturns” can negatively impact food security levels. Moreover, the educational level of parents has a strong influence on the nutritional status as well.
Studies show that educated mothers are “more knowledgeable about” the quality and nutrition aspects of the food they provide to their children. Borgen Magazine