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NHF, experts advocate national guidelines for food production


The Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) and nutritional experts have expressed worry over the increasing cardiovascular diseases and related death in Nigeria.

The experts, who spoke at the NHF’s “Stakeholders’ Meeting on Lipids and Cardiovascular Health: Global Status and the Nigerian Perspective” on Tuesday in Lagos, called for national guidelines on production and consumption of foods and beverages.

The scientists agreed that diet remained the commonest risk factor in the cardiovascular diseases.

Speaking, Prof. Rasak Sanusi, the Chairman of occasion, a former two-term Head of Department, Human Nutrition, University of Ibadan, stressed the importance of controlled and regulated diet to enhance cardiovascular health.

“There is a need for the development of a national guidelines for production and consumption of healthy foods with acceptable lipid concentration based on global standard and best practices.

“The quality of life cannot be described to what it was 10 or 15 years ago.

“There is a difference between feeding and eating. Eating is what human beings do, feeding is what animals do.

“The difference between them is choice. When we have choices of what we eat then we are eating.

“On the other hand, when choices are removed, we are only feeding. With this definition today, I wonder how many of us in Nigeria are actually eating,” Sanusi said.

Calling for the re-examining of the role of each of the stakeholders, Sanusi said that Nigerians should be informed about their cardiovascular health.

He pointed out the expectations for the meeting include examination of the increase in the cardiovascular diseases in Nigeria, the main risk factor, and to identify guidelines and focus on research agenda.

Dr Femi Mobolaji-Lawal, the Chairman, Executive Council, NHF said: “Ultimately, what we consume affect out health. What we consume has direct relationship with our cardiovascular system, especially our heart.

“We know that what we consume, especially the Lipid affect our heart.”

Mobolaji-Lawa said that the multi sectorial meeting had become necessary to review evidence of what was happening globally and experience Nigeria, to guide policy markets and activities.

He emphasised the need to disseminate information to the people especially consumers.

Also speaking, Dr Olorogun Sonny Kuku, the President, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) decried low life expectancy in Nigeria, saying cardiovascular diseases accounted for a lot of deaths in the country.

Describing the meeting as appropriate, Kuku said, “In this part of the country, we love lipids. Lipids need to be controlled and when controlled, life expectancy can be raised to 80 year.”

Doing an overview, Prof. Isaac Adeyemi, Director, Scientific Affairs, NHF said that the objective was for update on the current global and national status lipid concentration and profile in foods and beverages as well as the potential impacts of food on cardiovascular health.

Adeyemi said that the goal was to ensure that Nigerians live a healthy live, “that will ensure or reduce the increasing rate of cardiovascular diseases in this country.

Urging the consumers to select heart health options, the professor stressed the need to invest in monitoring and surveillance mechanism such as laboratory capacity to measure Trans Fatty Acids (TFA) content in foods.

On challenges, he said that foods and beverages being consumed must align with global health standards, saying, “it is important that food industry strives as much as possible to meet national, regional and global standards.

Adeyemi also stressed the need for early warning system that would involve scientist, academia, government agencies in curbing the rising incidence.

He added: “Consumers must read the nutrition facts on food products. Industry should replace trans fats in processed food as soon as possible and where feasible with healthy alternatives.

“The consumers must be stimulated should consume fish as part of healthy diet.”

Adeyemi emphasised the need for the experts to sensitise not only the public but also the government and industries about the important of having healthy foods devoid of trans fats and unhealthy fatty acids.

“Also, we must sensitise the public on the issue of point of package labeling.

“This is very important. As an individual and a country, consumers should be aware of the importance of point of package labeling.

“This will make them to identify the nutritional value of any food materials being purchased,” he added.

Dr Kingsley Akinroye, the Executive Director, NHF said: “We want Nigerians to live long, we wants Nigerians to live healthy and we want a productive population. In few years, quite a lot of our young executives have been dying suddenly.

“The commonest cause of sudden death is heart. We want everybody to be healthy. Right from the family to the policy makers., everybody has got responsibility.

“We know that the number factor in heart disease is diet and commonest culprit in the diet is fat. Although salt is also there but fat is key.”

According to him, in the last 15 years, the NHF has been working in Nigeria and has labelled some oils which were heart friendly.

He said that even though NHF was an international organisation, it ensure some flexibility in the contents to fit Nigeria content.

“We review what we do every four year, the last time we did this was 2016 and so, now this is high time we fall into global standard.

“Everybody here agreed that we need to live healthy and longer. To live longer, there are certain things we must do as individual, there are certain things government and industry must do.

“Individuals should go take care of themselves and ensure that they check contents of foods and beverages they buy. Is it friendly, does it carry the logo of Nigerian Heart Foundation.

“Government must invest in this cause, in. what we are doing and ensure more partnership with us.”

The participants were drawn from all the relevant agencies, academia, food industry, research scientists, university, government, regulatory agencies, organisations, consumers among others. (Shadanpamarepoters).








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