By ONYEAÑUNA ONYEDIKACHI, Abuja
Health experts and stakeholders in the food and agriculture sub-sector together with Civil Society groups have stressed the need and importance of increasing access to healthy and nutritious food for all, including food that is free of toxic chemicals such as trans fatty acids (also referred to as Trans Fats for short).
Dr Jerome O Mafeni of Network for Health Equity and Development(NHED) who is also the Project Adviser Trans Fat-free Nigeria, made the call in his address during a press briefing organised by Network for Health Equity and Development(NHED) in conjunction with the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Friday, to commemorate the World Food Day 2020 which has as theme ”Grow, Nourish, Sustain.Together, Our actions, Our Future”
The rights group urged the Nigerian government to prioritise access to safe and nutritious food for all Nigerians, especially the poor and vulnerable that are hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr Mafeni also observed that Trans Fat have been linked to increases in the risk of diabetes, obesity, cancers, dementia and even death, stressing that estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that over 250,000 persons die yearly from complications associated with the consumption of foods high in Trans Fats.
Earlier, CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, represented by CAPPA Director of Programmes, Philip Jakpor, in his address said the world over, critical attention is being paid to what people eat, and that the public health of a nation largely depends on what its citizens consume and therefore urge the Governing Council of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to speedily approve the guidelines and regulations on the use of fats and oils, as well as pre-packaged foods, water and ice labeling which has strong provisions on Trans He also canvass increased awareness on the dangers of consuming foods high in Trans Fats
The CAPPA boss want the 2018 WHO REPLACE initiative, which sets a roadmap for governments to remove trans-fat from food supplies, to be the path that Nigeria must follow if it is to take leadership on the African continent in eliminating trans fats. Oluwafemi also noted that Nigeria, with a huge and vulnerable population must not take the back seat in the global war against Trans Fats. He therefore want government to compel the oils and fats and the fast-food industry to comply with global best practices in relation to trans fats in the processing of their products