Healthy diet can prevent 45% of under-5 mortality – Official

Pupils during the feeding programme
Children pictured during a Home Grown School Feeding Programme

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Umar, says 45 per cent of death of children under five years old was preventable with a healthy diet.

This is contained in a statement by the Director of Information in the ministry, Noble Adaelu, in Abuja on Friday.

The statement noted that Mr Umar made this known at the School Quiz Competition organised as part of events to mark the 2019 World Food Day, with the theme: ‘Our Actions are our Future. Healthy diets for A #ZeroHunger.”

Addressing the students, Mr Umar said: ‘’My dear children, as you may be aware, a healthy diet is a diet that helps to maintain or improve the overall health of a person.

“It comprises carbohydrate, protein, fats and oil, water, mineral, salt and vitamins, and a healthy diet is important because the organs and tissues in the human body need proper nutrition to work effectively.

“Without good diet, the body is prone to diseases, infection, fatigue, poor performance and malnutrition, which experts say is the underlying cause of 45 per cent of all deaths of under five years children worldwide.”

The permanent secretary stated that the federal government recognised the role of a healthy diet as a developmental issue, which has led to the development of a Food Guide by Ministries, Departments and Agencies in Agriculture, Health, Environment, Information and Education, among others.

Mr Umar said that ‘’the Food Guide is a guide for healthy eating and for all Nigerians. It is a food pyramid that is divided into five food groups using locally produced foods.

‘’At the bottom are bread, grains and tubers, followed by vegetables and fruits eaten sparingly with confectionery.

“A a glass of water is placed outside the pyramid with the advice to always drink a lot of water, for full benefits of a healthy diet.”

He highlighted some of the benefits of a healthy diet to include weight loss, reduced cancer risk, diabetes management, healthy heart and stroke prevention, strong bones and teeth.

Mr Umar applauded the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), OXFAM, Action Aid and Leventis Foundation Nigeria, for their continual contribution towards agricultural development in Nigeria.

The FAO Country Representative in Nigeria, Suffyan Koroma, who was represented by the World Food Day Coordinator, Saadiya Haliru, stated that the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recognised the importance of food and nutrition security.

He assured that the organisation would remain focused on its mandate of raising the level of nutrition and standards of living and ensuring humanity’s freedom from hunger by promoting sustainable agricultural development and alleviating poverty.

Mr Koroma further said ‘on our part, FAO has developed educational materials for universities, trained school’s curriculum developers as well as nutrition education professionals.

“This was as a result of a needs based assessment in seven countries that revealed a lack of adequate training for nutrition educators.

“FAO launched the nutrition course ENACT in 2015, in partnership with African academic institutions, Nigeria inclusive.”

The school quiz completion had many secondary schools in attendance including Nigeria Turkish International Colleges, Government Secondary School Tudun Wada Zone 4, and Fou’ad Lababidi Islamic Academy Basic Education.

Others are Olumawu International School, Wuse II; Government Secondary School, Wuse; Federal Government Day Secondary School, APO, Garki; and Paris Africana International Secondary School.

The Nigeria Turkish International Colleges emerged first, with the Paris Africana International Secondary School coming second, while Government Day Secondary School, Garki, came third. (NAN)

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