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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 nutrients.

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 as follows.

  • Continually raising the awareness of leaders for the need to take action on humanitarian reasons for economic reasons and for political stability.
  • 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 health.
  • By using a coordinated but decentralized nutrition advocacy programme that can reach the grassroots for better nutrition and health.

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