Prof. Ngozi Nnam, the National President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, on Wednesday said 37 per cent of Nigerian children are stunted due to inadequate nutrition.
Nnam said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sideline of the 45th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the society in Lagos.
“It is a well-known fact that nutrition is the driver of development.
“Any country that has her citizens in adequate nutrition is more likely to develop better.
“Average Nigerian child is suffering from malnutrition, so we need to ensure that Nigerian children who will be the future leaders are in state of adequate nutrition.
“Adequate nutrition will help their brains to be well developed so that they can contribute their own quota toward the nation’s building,’’ she said.
Nnam, however, called on government at all levels to initiate policies that would improve the nutritional status of Nigerian child and also support breastfeeding.
According to her, supporting breastfeeding in Nigeria is essential.
“It is estimated that if we can scale up breastfeeding, we will reduce malnutrition by at least 20 per cent.’’
She said that governments should support the society to ensure that children were breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of life.
“We want government at the centre to approve six months maternity leave for women so that they will have the opportunity to stay put and exclusively breastfeed their babies.
“It will also be good if fathers are given paternity leave so that they will give necessary support to mothers during this critical period.
“I commend Lagos State Government for its initiative on this policy and hereby call on others to take this bold step by approving six months maternity leave.
“Breastfeeding is cost effective and remains the perfect food for the baby with no added cost to the mother.
“It is also essential to note that necessary development of a child would be done during breastfeeding, once a child missed this, it may lead to permanent disability.
“The disability may be in form of mental health or physical development and vital organs in the body,’’ Nnam said.
She said lactating mothers do not need to have extra food for breastfeeding, adding that they only need to maintain their normal eating.
“Exclusive breastfeeding is also a way of fighting corruption, because when a mother exclusively breastfeed, she is not thinking of how to buy milk formula, which is expensive.
“Money is saved on buying extra supplement because the mother would have stayed at home enough to give necessary food to her child, all these with no extra cost.
“Also, it is important to know that the quality of breast milk is the same regardless of standard of living or food intake, either rich or poor, the quality remains.
“The only difference is in the quantity of milk and not the quality,’’ Nnam said.


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