By Kareem Shamsudeen
The Nutrition Society of Nigeria, on Tuesday, held a public lecture titled; “Securing the Future through Adolescent Nutrition,” where attention was drawn on the dire need for adequate nutrition of the adolescents so as to make their adulthood less challenged with health issues.
The guest speaker, Mrs Iwalola Akin-Jimoh, the Executive Secretary, Youth empowerment foundation, who delivered the lecture at the University of Ibadan, focused on the need to enlighten the adolescents to living a healthy lifestyle which would ensure their effective maturation to adulthood, while calling on the parents, nutritionists as well as other stakeholders to play active roles in facilitating this.
Mrs Iwalola posited that adolescents are individuals who grow to maturity, thus they need a lot of protein and energy development, with the intake of more vitamins to enable them live healthily. She said, “The foundations of healthy living are laid during adolescence.”
She also talked on the dangers associated with adolescents not getting enough nourishment they deserve, which leads to them having one ailment or the other. She stressed that a child who is malnourished can get replenished at the adolescence stage since it plays a central role in growing to adult, provided there is adequate nutrition.
However, Mrs Iwalola added that there is need to prevent pregnancy at adolescence, thus, adolescents need to be enlightened on their stage of development, through various channels, else talks on adolescent nutrition would be a waste.
Commending the various groups and government agencies in the country that are bent on ensuring food fortification in the country, she emphasized that adolescents also need to be “nutrition sensitive.”
She further added that asides the need for proper nutrition, adolescents need to be trained to be independent so they would be able to stand up and speak for themselves. “Adolescents don’t live a compartmentalized life,” she stated.
“We need to set a target that ensures that the inter-generational problem of nutrition is addressed,” she noted, adding that measures are put in place to ensure that the adolescents live an all-round, healthy life.
Professor R. A Sanusi, the chairman of the occasion, also said the lecture would serve as an avenue for the adolescents to be conscious of themselves and live a healthy lifestyle. “We want our adolescents to be equipped in such a way that they will move the world,” he noted.
In addition, Professor Olufunmilayo, Dean, Faculty of Public Health, said organizing a public lecture for the adolescents is important because they form a larger population of the country. She added that “lecture like this corrects the misinformation of our nutrition and health.”
The Head of Department, Human Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Ibadan, Dr. Oladejo Adepoju, also said adolescents always seek for freedom and experimentation and there is need for their care so the situation of things would not mar their future. He also recommended healthy foods and positive health-related activities. “Let’s encourage the adolescents to indulge themselves in physical activities. It is not a sign of poverty,” he noted. “If we have good nutrition and we don’t practice healthy lifestyle, the problem will remain the same,” he stated.
Furthermore, Professor Veronica Obatolu, the Executive Director, Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, charged the adolescents to encourage their parents to practice healthy living. “Go back home and educate your own parents on adolescent nutrition. There cannot be secured future in the country’s economy without looking into the health issues of adolescents,” she said.
Dr. Bartholomew Brai, the President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, however, added that when we are talking about adolescence, it is pertinent we talk on adolescent nutrition as well. He then acknowledged the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who funded the lecture.