Stories by PATRICK ONUOHA
Stakeholders in health and consumables have warned that consumption of unhealthy foods is capable of depleting the nation’s workforce.
Rising from a one day consumers forum organized by Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria( BJAN) to mark this year’s World Consumer Day, the experts also observed that the consumption of fatty foods including noddles and junk food are also injurious to health.
The event which held in Lagos with the theme, “Implications of Unhealthy Food intake to National Development” saw Mr. Tam Tamunokobia, Head Lagos Office of Consumer Protection Council calling for a reduction in the consumption of salt, sugar and fatty foods saying that they pose health challenges to consumers.
He said: “Unhealthy food has been defined as any food that is not conducive to maintaining good health. They include “fast” foods which are low in fibre and vitamins, foods high in fats, salts and tropical oils e.g. fried potatoes, creams etc.”
“They are foods that are perceived to have little or no nutritional value, with ingredients considered unhealthy when eaten regularly. Junks are ready-to-eat convenience foods, containing high levels of saturated fats, salt, sugar with little or no fruit, vegetables, fibre.”
Tamunokobia noted that consumption of unhealthy foods has both health and social implications that have direct bearing to National development.
He said : “ Unhealthy feeding, is a major cause of health related issues as high blood pressure, Obesity, diabetics, cancer (whether breast or prostrate). Socially, addiction to junk food, fast food has the capacity to break marriages with the resultant effect of bringing up deviants in the society.”
According to him, the implication of all these , is that it depletes National work force and reduces the Nations Gross Domestic Product (GDP).This is because people affected by the aforesaid ailments will not be strong enough to work due to weak immune system.
He said “unhealthy food intake depletes the national workforce. Every nation develops with its human resources. A nation that allows its generations of youths to be hacked down by unhealthy food related obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, among others, will soon run out of its workforce to produce its wealth.
“Unhealthy food intake will naturally reduce a nation’s Gross Domestic Product. Majority of those who survive the disease we mentioned above will hardly have enough strength to produce for the nation.
“Their immunity to diseases would be so weak that their production can never be at its optimum”,
On the way forward, Tamunokobia said “As brand journalists, the best service you will render to this nation is to allow yourselves to be channels of dissemination of information.
“Consumer education without the media will only end in a circle. The media should in addition bring public opinion to bear on the producers of unhealthy foods.
Contributing also, the President, Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON), Identified cultural issues, lack of patience to check on labels before purchase,lack of research to guide on measure of consumables, and ignorance which makes it difficult for people to differentiate between expired and best before dates displayed on the shelf that affects the quality of food.
Both the media and the marketing communications were represented in the discussion segment by Mr Steve Nwosu of The Sun Newspaper and Mrs Bumi Oke respectively.
While Mr Nwosu charged the media to create a balance between running down a product and what is public good Mrs. Oke stressed that marketing communicators would always help consumers to make informed choices .
Mr Tony Chiejina of Dangote Group, who spoke on behalf of manufacturers,
stressed that standardization is the key to making a good product.