THE Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED) and Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) on Friday charged the Federal Government to prioritise safe and nutritious food for vulnerable Nigerians who are hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Beyond coronary heart diseases, trans fats have been linked to increases in the risk of diabetes, obesity, cancers, dementia and death,” said Jerome Mafeni, Project Adviser for Trans Fatty Acids Elimination of NHED.
Mafemi spoke at a press briefing held in Abuja to mark World Food Day 2020, with the theme titled “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together”.
He explained that Nigerians should be concerned about the growing incidences of coronary heart diseases and other ailments to ensure food makers restrict and replace trans fats.
According to him, the role of dietary fats and oils in human nutrition is one of the most complex and controversial areas of investigations in nutrition science.
He noted that global health bodies recognise the growing epidemic of chronic diseases in developing countries related to dietary changes.
Estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) show that over 250, 000 persons die yearly resulting from complications associated with the consumption of foods high in trans fats.
Transfats, also known as trans-fatty acids, naturally occur in small, safe quantities in some meat and dairy products.
It is also industrially produced by partially hydrogenating vegetable oils, and it is these artificial trans fats that are added to our cooking oils as well as packaged, processed and baked goods in much larger, unsafe quantities.
Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director of CAPPA who was represented at the event by Philip Jakpor, CAPPA’s Director of Programmes, said Nigeria should borrow a leaf from the WHO agenda to persuade governments to eliminate trans-fat from its food supplies.
Oluwafemi Explained that across the world, critical attention is being paid to what people eat and that the public health of a nation largely depends on what its citizens consume.
According to him, Nigeria, with a huge and vulnerable population must not take the back seat in the global war against trans fats, which he insisted, is now a bomb waiting to explode.
He emphasised the need for increased awareness on the dangers of consuming foods high in trans fats and urged the Nigerian government to compel the oils and fats and the fast-food industry to comply with global best practice in relation to trans fats in the processing of their products.
NHED and CAPPA urged the Governing Council of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to speedily approve the guidelines and regulations on the use of fats and oils, as well as pre-packaged foods, water, and ice labelling which has strong provisions on trans fats.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.