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Intake of unhealthy food depletes work force

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.

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