The challenge of providing good nutrition is global. In many instances, it is multidimensional. In Nigeria today, there is no part of the country, segment of the population and groups not impacted by nutritional issues. No part!
To understand the significance of nutrition, consider this: experts insist that maternal prenatal nutrition and the child’s nutrition in the first three years of life are crucial factors in a child’s neuro-development and lifelong mental health. Not getting enough nutrients early in life can have an impact that lasts a lifetime.
This is the challenge, that where nutrients are inadequate or in excess, it leads to malnutrition. Malnutrition, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. Malnutrition covers undernutrition, micro or macro nutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity among other unsavory conditions.
According to UNICEF: “In Nigeria, malnutrition is a direct or underlying cause of 45 per cent of all deaths of under-five children. Nigeria has the second-highest burden of stunted children in the world, with a national prevalence rate of 32 per cent of children under five.”
The situation looks grim. However, the fact that malnutrition is an issue should not surprise anyone, as hunger is a critical problem. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in a recent report about poverty and inequality from September 2018 to October 2019, said 40 per cent of people in Nigeria live below the poverty line of 137,430 naira ($381.75) a year. This represents 82.9 million poor people.
Everyone knows that the poor struggle to eat. Sadly, in Nigeria today, a major cause of malnutrition, especially among children is protein deficiency. This happens when people do not get adequate amounts of protein from their diet. Mediacraft NG