By Philip Yatai
A Nutritionist, Malam Mohammed Sani-Hassan, says about 80 per cent of diseases affecting Nigerians are diet-related and can be curbed with good dietary knowledge and attitude.
Sani-Hassan, a one-time Vice President of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, said this in an interview with in Kaduna on Friday.
He identified some of the diet-related Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) to include diabetes, hypertension, kidney diseases, heart disease, liver disease and obesity.
He said that a significant number of Nigerians were not aware of the linkage between what they eat and their health.
According to him, such ignorance is largely responsible for the frightening increase in the number of diet-related diseases among both the young and the older population.
He added that ‘people eat what they want to eat to show evidence of healthy life, while others erroneously think that becoming obese is a display of living well.’
‘Some people erroneously link the prevalence of diabetes and hypertension to income and wealth, meaning the richer you are the more oily, sugary, and junk foods you consume.’
‘But on the contrary, these diseases are increasing at an alarming rate because people are ignorant about what they eat and the relationship between what they eat and their health.’
‘The human body has a minimum nutrients intake which should be provided, and excess of the nutrients could put one at risk of developing diet-related diseases.’
The nutritionist pointed out that most people have a culture of excessive eating, saying ‘if you work less, you should eat less; if you work a lot, you should eat more.’
‘However, wealthy people are eating three to five times a day and mostly without physical activity, while 70 to 80 per cent of food prepared for school children are oily and sugar-based drinks.’
He advised people to watch their weight, check what they eat, when they should eat, how to eat and go for regular medical check up to close the gap.
He said that Kaduna was among the seven states in the country with the highest prevalence of some of the diet-related diseases, including diabetes and hypertension.
‘But I am not aware of any deliberate programme in Kaduna State that addresses this problem,’ he said.
He stressed the need for a public health component that should focus on what the population needed to know about what they should eat, how they should eat and when they should eat.
According to him, understanding the linkage between what people eat and their health is a key determinant of longevity, ability and capability, as well as income and general wellbeing.
‘The government must put structures in place that will provide quality education and information on age-appropriate diet requirements and eating habits,’ he advised.