By Morenike Taire and Funmi Ajumobi
Lack of access to information and pervasive ignorance about the right choice of nourishment has been identified as the major factors militating against proper nutrition in children in Nigeria.
This was suggested during the Roundtable Conference on child nutrition held at the Vanguard headquarters in Lagos today.
Participants at the conference included regulators and policy makers on child nutrition in Nigeria.
Mrs Iquo Ukoh the Marketing Service Director of Nestle Nigeria emphasized on the importance of a synergy between the Federal Ministries of health and Education to inculcate food and nutrition in the primary school curriculum so as to build children’s taste in the right choice of food at their tender age.
She cited the one-meal-a-day policy which has not been implemented in most states due to various factors which include unavailability of government funds and corruption.
She suggested the formation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) rather than waiting for government to do everything.
Ogochukwu Mainasara, Acting Director of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration And Control (NAFDAC) who represented the Director General of the Agency said that the Agency has commenced discussions with stakeholders on food labeling as one of its regulatory efforts to stop manufacturers from deceiving the public on the consumables nutritional values. She cited the universal salt iodization and fortification projects of staples such as flour in order to reduce nutritional deficiencies and learning disabilities as part of the projects of the Agency.
Dr Chika Ndiokwelu, National President, Dietitian Society of Nigeria also emphasized on the need for parents to increase the amount of healthy food that are starched based food instead of processed carbohydrate and she advised parents to increase the amount of vegetables and fruits given to their children.
Also in attendance, Margaret Eshiett of the Standard Organization of Nigeria, representing the Director General of the organization, said that all standards have been harmonized to international standards and this includes food for children while taking into consideration local contents.
Other participants were Mrs Umego Adaora and Mr Anyanwu Camillus scientific Officer and Surveillance and Enforcement officers from Consumer Protection Council, Mrs Adu Morenikeji from Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria and Ms Flora Archibong.
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