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Experts to brainstorm on role of diets in heart diseases’ prevention



NHF holds summit on April 21 in Lagos

In an attempt to control the rising prevalence of cardiovascular disease in the country, the Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) is set to hold a summit with the focus on the key role of healthy diets in preventive strategies.

The summit, which seeks to address the issue of lipids and cardiovascular health in the Nigerian population, is in furtherance to 2013, World Health Assembly’s endorsement on Non-Communicable Diseases Action Plan 2013 – 2020 and the recommendation to promote healthy diets by member states.

Speaking in Lagos recently, the Executive Director, NHF, Dr. Kolapo Akinroye said, “As non – communicable diseases have been included in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we hope the outcome of this summit will contribute towards Nigeria’s significant achievement of the SDGs by 2030.”

Akinroye explained that, the foundation is positioned to look at all food products for certification, “because if we are in the business of preventing heart diseases, diet is a central risk factor.”

The summit, which has been dubbed, “Heart Health Nutrition Summit 2016” is scheduled to hold on April 21, 2016 at the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Lagos.

According to the NHF boss, they are so many products that are supposed to be certified out there, but since it is a voluntary step for companies, they cannot be forced to comply with the foundation.

He cited an instance of many vegetable oils in the Nigerian market with just about four certified by the NHF.

Akinroye related such instance to the fact that Nigeria has not defined what is acceptable for consumption for her population, so the Nigerian market has been flooded with all types of vegetable oil, so far as it is certified by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

He continued, “you take a bottle of vegetable oil in Nigeria and they write zero cholesterol, what is the definition of zero cholesterol in the Nigerian context,” he asked rhetorically.

Akinroye who is also an Honorary Consul of Finland also pointed out that, NAFDAC is not to be blamed because as a regulatory agency, their mandate is only to ensure the food products are healthy and not poisonous. “So NHF is like a surveillance, we are complementing NAFDAC by going further to check the level of impact to the body of consumers” he added.

So that is why it is our duty to know and inform the people to what extent these vegetable oils can affect our health.

The challenge is that, there are no lipid profiles of vegetable oils entering into the country and we cannot ascertain if what they claim, is really true, Akinroye noted.

He further explained that; “though research have been carried out to indicate high saturated fatty acid can lead to heart disease, but the direct linkage to the black population still does not exist because we have not been able to scientifically prove it.”

Akinroye lamented that most of the countries where these results comes from have people subjected to10 or 20 years of study before their results come out, but it is not so in Nigeria.

Therefore, the summit apart from bridging the gap in knowledge between lipids and cardiovascular health in African population, it would as well define what level of lipid profile in vegetable oils is considered acceptable, what is zero cholesterol in vegetable oils in Nigeria and palm oil and its derivatives effects on Nigerians among others.

A typical medical doctor is being thought that if people consume too much of fats, they are bound to have heart disease, and at the end , most people take high saturated fats and they do not know the outcome of it, so we still need to research and let people know what we are doing.

He regretted saying that, in South Africa which is near to us in Africa, they have about 200 products being certified by their heart foundation, but in Nigeria, within the duration of 15 years, we have labeled about 10 products, “that shows how challenging the situation is in Nigeria.”

He gave an example where the first milk they labeled took five years, whereas they are so many milks in the market yet to go through the stringent test of the foundation.

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