A community nutritionist and nutrition educator, Mr. Charles Nkwoala, says children and women, especially pregnant and lactating women, are most affected by protein deficiency.
According to Nkwoala, who is the National General Secretary of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, in children under-five, protein deficiency can lead to retarded growth, poor cognitive development, lowered immunity, fatigue and lack of concentration.
The nutritionist disclosed this to PUNCH HealthWise, stressing that children are affected because of their high protein requirement for growth and development.
Nkwoala, who is a lecturer in the Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, notes that the immediate cause of protein deficiency is mainly related to inadequate intake of protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, legumes and also presence of diseases.
He said, “For us to appreciate the reason for the rise in protein deficiency in Nigeria, especially among children, we need to know the causes of protein deficiency. There are about three levels of causes — immediate cause, underlying cause and basic cause.”
“The immediate cause is predisposed by the underlying cause, which is mainly due to household food insecurity, inadequate care, sanitation and access to health care, which are also hinged on lack of nutrition education.”
“The basic cause of protein deficiency is poverty, unemployment and lack of basic infrastructures. If you consider the fact that Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world and the predominant lack of basic amenities and poor health care system, it will be clear that protein deficiency will always be on the increase.”
“Protein deficiency has serious health implications. Bearing in mind that protein is a major component of almost all parts of the body – blood (haemoglobin), eye, muscle, hair, it then becomes obvious that its deficiency can lead to several health risks such as anaemia, retarded growth, eye problems and even death.”
@ Punch Newspaper