High cost has been identified as a major disincentive for the consumption of most protein food sources in Nigeria. This was revealed in a national survey report, the Nigeria Protein Deficiency Report, unveiled at the recent launch of the Nigeria Protein Awareness Campaign. The campaign is tagged ‘Protein Challenge Nigeria’. The survey, which was designed to empirically determine the current status and dimensions of protein deficiency in Nigeria, sheds light on food consumption patterns among Nigerians. According to the report, “51 per cent of respondents do not have adequate protein-rich foods due largely to high cost.” The report also showed that the fundamental factors determining the necessity of meal items consumed across the country are availability (79%) and affordability (68%). Highlights of the report indicate, as most Nigerians would probably expect, that carbohydrates are the most consumed food amongst Nigerians. Rice topped the list with 91%, closely followed by ‘swallows’ (such as eba, amala, fufu, pounded yam, etc.) as 83%. 58% of sampled institutional providers (dieticians and nutritionists) insisted that the protein intake of Nigerians is generally quite insufficient.
According to Dr. Omadeli Boyo, a medical doctor and public health expert: “The report lends credence to many of the long-held perceptions about food consumption in Nigeria. It is detailed, yet concise, clear and places in context food consumption patterns across the country.”
He noted that it is no surprise that, with carbohydrates as the most commonly consumed foods, incidence of malnutrition is today a prevalent public health concern.
Shedding more light on the protein deficiency campaign, Dr. Boyo explained that an important thing about the proposed campaign is that it aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2, which seeks to ‘end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’
Also commenting on the report, Ebenezer Amuwaolu Oluloto, a nutrition expert, said: “Excellent job, I skimmed through the slide deck, it looks good, insightful and informative.” He noted that it is interesting to see up to 65% consuming animal source foods like meat. He posited that however that vegetables, at 53%, ought to be close to rice, ‘swallow’ and beans, because they usually go together, along with stew.
Another Nutritionist, Judith Igwe, said: “The report highlights the dimensions of protein deficiency in Nigeria. It also establishes that availability, affordability, taste, nutritional value and preference are factors that drive the choice of protein consumption among the target audience.”
The survey was commissioned as a part of Protein Challenge, a protein-pull media campaign supported by the United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and other partners, seeks to create awareness about the prevalence, status and impact of protein deficiency in Nigeria. The campaign website www.proteinchallengeng.com is set up as a knowledge platform to promote protein in general and soybeans in particular. The website is the ‘go-to’ place for everyone interested in understanding the importance of protein to health and wellbeing. The Nigeria Protein Deficiency Report can be downloaded free from the website.
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