Eat More Iron-rich Foods, Nigeria’s Minister Advises Women, Children

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Nigeria

By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos

Eating iron-rich diets, especially locally available and affordable ones, remains an effective means of addressing health conditions caused by iron deficiency in the body.
Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, said this at the launching of “Live Strong with Iron” campaign by Nestle Nigeria PLC.
She encouraged women and children to form the dietary habit of consuming more iron-rich foods.
The minister was representated on the occasion by Amb. Anthonia A Ekpa, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry.
“The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs will support this public health awareness campaign, as it has valuable content that will positively impact on the health of a huge per centage of Nigerians,” the women affairs minister pledged.  “We’re committed to collaborating with stakeholders for the overall development of women and children in Nigeria,”
The management of Nestle said “Live Strong with Iron” campaign supports to accelerate the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3 (DDG) which focuses on good health and well-being.
The food manufacturing company, which emphasizes the slogan: “Good Food, Good Life”, pointed out that iron deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency globally and locally.  “It has a devastating impact on proper growth and development, productivity and life expectancy,” Nestle warned.
It said symptoms of iron deficiency are headaches, weakness, fatigue, lack of concentration and low immunity, adding that women who suffer from iron deficiency experience hair loss and dull skin.
Nestle stated that this group of people have low awareness of their vulnerability to iron deficiency anaemia, noting that there is low consumption of iron-rich foods by those at risk.
It disclosed that key malnutrition data in Nigeria is impacted by the Triple Burden of Malnutrition (TBM), namely: micronutrient deficiency, under-nutrition and obesity.
The food company said that in Nigeria, 68 per cent of children under five years of age are iron deficient; 15 per cent of women aged 15 to 49 are iron deficient, while the disease has caused 37 per cent of under-5 children to be stunted.
In Nigeria, “prevalent of iron deficiency in uneducated/educated women is 64 per cent/47 per cent,” Nestle narrated, citing the malnutrition data.
For example, the key malnutrition data in Nigeria showed that anemia in children under-5 is 68 per cent; anemia in women 15 to 49 years is rated 49.8 per cent. 36.8 per cent of under-5 children are stunted, while 75.5 per cent of adult male and female are overweight and obese.
“About 50 per cent of anemia is due to iron deficiency,” the authors of the study explained.
They said that children who are suffering from iron deficiency exhibit compromised immunity, poor growth and development, and impaired motor and cognitive development.
Prevalence of iron deficiency in family results in reduced well-being and reduced mental and physical agility, the key malnutrition data disclosed.
Nations suffer from the effects of Iron deficiency by experiencing diminished human potential and reduced productivity of human capital, the data hinted.
Nestle released information on how to prevent iron deficiency. It advised Nigerians to consume daily iron-rich local foods , for example, dark green leaves, egusi, beans, nuts, meat, fish, chicken, offal, whole grains. “These also provide other essential nutrients,” Nestle assured.
The food company recommended the combination of plant and animal sources of iron whenever possible.
“Eat, cook meals with Vitamin C fruits and vegetables to help our bodies absorb more Iron,” Nestle advised.  “Don’t overcook vegetables. Wait an hour before or after meals before drinking tea. Choose packaged foods that are fortified with Iron.”
The food company related related that improving iron deficiency in Nigeria is possible, and pointed out that “it starts with us educating ourselves and making more nutritious food choices.”

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