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Regular intake of fruits, vegetable solution to obesity – researchers

Nutrition experts from the University of Ibadan and Wageningen University and Research at the Netherlands have stated that regular intake of fruits and vegetables will help correct under-nutrition and obesity among low-income populations in Nigeria.

At a stakeholder meeting held at International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan on the project titled “Increasing fruit and vegetable intake of low-income populations in Nigeria and Vietnam through food system innovations”, also known as FVN project, the experts noted these deficiency and over nutrition could be seen in form of obesity and others.

The project is funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, coordinated by the UI long-standing partner, the Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands, and involving eight other institutions globally.

Folake Samuel ,an associate Professor of human nutrition at the UI, who is also local principal investigator of the FVN project, emphasized that fruits and vegetables are one of the most important interventions in human nutrition deficiencies.

She also corrected the erroneous belief that fruits and vegetables are meant for high income earners because of the cost adding that low-income populations need to consume it for healthy living.

According to Samuel, with very little amount every individual, particularly low-income urban population can get varieties of fruits and vegetables to correct both undernutrition and overnutrition if adequately taken on a daily basis.

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Godwin Bamsa, one of the researchers, said the researchers realized that people eat enough fruits and vegetables and there is the need to take fruits in regulated quantities for a better and healthy lifestyle.

He explained that eating adequate fruits and vegetables daily is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, which helps reduce the risk of having non-communicable diseases.

In his welcome address, Kayode Oyebode Adebowale, the vice-chancellor, University of Ibadan, maintained that Nigeria is facing the challenge of various forms of malnutrition, the prevalence of under-nutrition, over-nutrition, micronutrient deficiencies adding that diet related non-communicable diseases are on the increase and various sectors are working together to address this hydra-headed problem.

Adebowale, a professor, stressed that among the populations labelled as the most vulnerable to malnutrition, the poor are particularly at risk due to multiple deprivations they face.

According to him, “People experiencing poverty are disproportionately affected by rising food prices and rising inflation, such people are forced to employ coping strategies such as skipping meals, reducing the amount they eat, preparing meals with fewer nutritious foods, and buying cheaper food options.

“In the midst of these, consuming adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables in the diet becomes a distant secondary concern, and the implications for health include undernutrition, obesity, and diet related disease among those who are already struggling the most.

“Addressing these inequalities will take transformative actions across multiple sectors in the Food Systems of Nigeria. This is the focus of Project FVN.

“This project aimed at addressing malnutrition among low-income urban populations in Nigeria and Vietnam by increasing intake of fruits and vegetables through food system innovations that improve access through the diversification of retail outlets, enhance affordability through a client-specific coupon system, and boost acceptability through promotional campaigns and behaviour change communication.

“The project was implemented at the same time in Ibadan, Nigeria and Hanoi, Vietnam. The objective of today’s stakeholder meeting is to share findings of the FVN project and actively engage with critical stakeholders across and beyond the project.

“This dissemination is not only timely but also provocatively incisive as it is filled with a great potential to generate fresh beautiful ideas as we listen to the presenters, as critical stakeholders in the nutrition landscape in Nigeria.”

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