Written by Ijeoma UKAZU

Nigeria ranks low in protein consumption- Report

A new report by Ipsos Nigeria Limited, a leading market research company, noted that the historical data shows that, Nigeria has a gap in its protein consumption when compared to other global economies.

According to National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s poverty and unemployment rate is recently put at 33 percent by which the new report ‘Understanding Nigeria’s Protein Deficiency status and evaluating campaign activities’, points that, protein deficiency contributes to the ugly social status indicator.

It added that the country is ranked below the bar in global food security index with a protein per capita - daily intake lower than the global standard.

The report titled, "The Nigerian Protein Deficiency Report 2020," further identified protein deficiency as a major burden that requires continuous interventions to combat and reduce a nutrition crisis in Nigeria.

Unveiling the report at the Protein Challenge Webinar Series 8, Mr. Obaro Agalabri, Service Line Lead (West Africa) Ipsos Nigeria Limited, said that 40 percent of Nigerians representing 82 million live below the poverty line of one dollar per day.

He said, "this has largely affected protein consumption as the average cost of protein per meal is N80. Meaning, the average cost of protein for three meals for a Nigerian per day is N240.

"Poverty, unemployment and lack of awareness is majorly the cause of protein deficiency in Nigeria. In fact, cost and household income levels remain the major deterrent to adequate protein intake in Nigeria. This is more prevalent in the North and lowers social classes. Need to drive deliberate efforts that are targeted towards affordable protein sources for a household to boost daily intake," he said.

Mr. Obaro also said that the most commonly consumed sources of protein in Nigeria are Beans, Meat and Fish. But with this, he reasoned that almost half of the population of Nigeria do not consume protein on a daily basis as against recommended consumption. This is more prevalent in the North and East, and among the lower class.

On her part, a Nutritionist, Dr. Beatrice Chinyem Oganah-Ikujenyo of the Department of Home Economics, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Lagos, while speaking on ‘Exploring the issues behind protein deficiency in Nigeria’, explained core issues facing the efforts to alleviate ‘hidden hunger’ (protein and other micro-nutrient deficiencies).

She said, these include poor knowledge of food and feeding habits, extreme poverty, high cost of animal protein, and culture/superstitions (used to consuming starch/children are rarely given large meat/fish portion.

According to Oganah-Ikujenyo, "infants, young children, pregnant and lactating mothers are categorised by the data as the most affected. Implications of such crisis include, poor growth and development of organs and tissues, additional requirement of pregnancy and lactation, and foetal origin of chronic diseases."

 

Others mostly affected are displaced people due to wars, banditry and insurgency, natural disasters like earthquakes, flooding, landslides and climate change, biological/insect infestation likebird flu, mosaic and insects.

The nutritionist said, carbohydrates are easy to cultivate, harvest in a very short time, cheap and readily available in the markets, but feeding mainly on them fuels malnutrition.

The experts, therefore, advocated a change of the narrative through nutrition education targeted at encouraging the consumption of multi-mixes or protein complementation, the habit of meal planning and using the six food guide pyramid to enable the careful selection of foods.

They identified that there is a need to channel communication to the essence of protein consumption and to push out clear information regarding the required intake of protein for optimum wellbeing, especially in North and East where there are lower intakes.

According to them, driving deliberate efforts that are targeted towards affordable protein sources for household, especially the lower income groups is imperative to boosting daily intakes.

 

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