Nutrition advocacy is vital to health of the population says Nigerian
National Institute for Medical Research
Communicating nutrition research to the consumers will be a major key
strategy to improving healthy food consumption/making right dietary choices.
Nutrition education (public enlightenment) is probably the most important
determinant in changing peoples’ dietary habits for better nutrition,
unless people know that a particular food is good/bad for their health,
they will most likely continue in ignorance to the detriment of their
health and life.
A lot of research work has been down in the field of nutrition and health,
but unfortunately when such information are published in peer review
journals the general public/consumers do not have access to that information
and can not apply what is there to their own benefit and that of the
population at large.
This is why we use this medium to keep consumers/policy makers updated
on current knowledge and medical breakthroughs in nutrition specifically,
That can help improve peoples dietary choices, and a healthier living.
It is also important that policy makers become informed of our research
findings. This will enable them make good policies and create good programmes,
that will help the people improve their nutrition.
Benefits of such public enlightenment and advocacy has been seen in
the area of micro-nutrients. (Vitamins, Minerals and trace elements)
and their Vital role in disease prevention, health promotion and economic
well-being. We have seen that with iodine deficiency problems and the
iodization of table salt as a micro-nutrient intervention strategy to
correct the problem of goitre and other mental health problems associated
with that deficiency.
The problem of Vitamin A deficiency resulted in the inclusion of vitamin
A in our immunization programmes, to help reduce the incidence of childhood
illnesses (measles, diarrhoea, upper respiratory disease, blindness etc)
in this country. The care has been taken further with the food industries
now for fortifying wheat flour with vitamin A and possibly other vitamins.
Generally people are becoming aware of the food sources of these micro-nutrients
(e.g fruits, vegetables, nut, cereals etc) and their importance in health
promotion and disease prevention and the need to consume more of such
In 2003, nutrition advocacy, public enlightenment will occupy a major
place in nutrition programme interventions. This will be targeted to
consumers, policy markers, Researchers the industrialist and other stake
holders for practical application, to improve the nutrition well-being,
the health, productivity and economic empowerment.
Some of the steps that will be taken for communicating Nutrition are
- Continually raising the awareness of leaders for the need to take
action on humanitarian reasons for economic reasons and for political
- Maximizing industry co-oporation and compliance with food fortification
through incentives and regulatory enforment agency.
- Continually raising
consumer awareness and demand for micro-nutrient rich foods, vitamin
supplements and fortified foods, for optimal
- By using a coordinated but decentralized nutrition advocacy
programme that can reach the grassroots for better nutrition