Experts raise alarm over influx of processed food
Following the rising concern on the influx of processed food in the system; nutrition experts have raised alarm on the growing rate of child obesity, considered another form of malnutrition.
According to them, malnutrition is not restricted to the unavailability of necessary foods nutrients, but also includes overfeeding especially in children because it predisposes them to a variety of ailments later in their lives.
At a nutrition seminar for children with special needs organised by the Lagos State government, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s Special Adviser on Social Development, Mrs. Joyce Onafowokan stated how noteworthy it was for parents to watch how they feed their children with lots of processed foods because there is a growing rate of child obesity.
According to her, it has become pertinent for the state to examine nutrition as part of the developmental process of children, especially those with disabilities because It’s has been reported that the high prevalence of malnutrition is often reported amongst them.
She cautioned parents on overfeeding; as well as to always endeavor to read the content of processed foods because of high level of sodium (salt), which sets children for high blood pressure later in life. “When you overfeed a baby you are expanding their fat cells, which lead to obesity.”
Stating why malnutrition is eminent in children with disabilities, the National Publicity Secretary of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), Dr. Olusola Malomo said, often children with special needs have challenges feeding properly because of their condition. Some of them he said have poor attention span and appetite, while others present with various medical condition as food allergies oral sensory aversions and chronic constipation among others.
This, he explained has presented even a greater challenge to parents of such children because it is a complex issue beyond the parents’ grasp. He added that malnutrition in a child with special needs would further worsen their condition if care is not sought for. Malomo advanced that there was no essence of a child eating food that cannot be utilised to the body, citing that foods with high fiber like noodles and garri should be discontinued for such children because of digestion issues.
Stating the adequate nutrients, he remarked that children between 0 to 24 months need energy, vitamins and minerals due to rapid growth at that stage. “Their stomachs are still relatively small, hence the need to provide lots of nutrients in small quantities that their stomach can carry.”Among other things, Malomo recommended increase budget for nutrition, more training for health professionals, food demonstration in schools, modification of foods, as well as implementing the nutrition policy, “it is not what we have that matters, but what we do with what we have.”