By Augusta Uchediunor
Lagos – Poor intake of fruits and vegetables, late supper, and excessive consumption of processed carbohydrates are among the dietary habits of Nigerians.
A recent Diet and Nutrition Survey officially released on Monday has revealed.
The research was conducted by WellNewMe, a health technology company, in collaboration with Dennis Ashley Medical Clinic, a medical facility based in Lagos, Nigeria, from January 2019 to March 2020.
It was aimed at gathering information about the dietary habits and nutritional status of the Nigerian population.
The survey, which took place across the age range of 20 to 60 years old and was part of a larger programme that examined the relationship between diet and non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer.
“Fruits and vegetables are important aspects of any stable diet, but yet, it seems that many Nigerians are still not getting enough of the recommended amounts.
“Only 30 per cent of the population are eating fruits and 19 per cent are eating vegetables on a daily basis.
“ Younger people were less likely older people to eat fruits and vegetable on a regular basis.
“People who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases,’’ it said.
According to the study, six out of every 10 Nigerians tend to have late supper, of which is detrimental to health.
“People who have late suppers tend to ingest more calories than people who eat earlier, leading to poor weight control and weight gain.
“More than half of Nigerians surveyed said that they have their last meal of the day after 7.00p.m in the evenings, more than three times in the week in the 30 days preceding the survey.
“Men were more likely than women to eat late, and people in their 40s were also the most likely than any age group to have a late meal.
“What research has shown is that people who have late suppers tend to ingest more calories than people who eat earlier.
“This could lead to poor weight control as the extra calories consumed by late eaters could lead to weight gain over time,’’ it said.
Other key findings in the survey included the fact that only one per cent of Nigerians are vegetarians.
“Having a balanced diet is key in improving mood and mental wellbeing; maintaining a healthy body weight and lowering the risk of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, stroke and cancer.
“While a vegetarian diet also provides some of the same benefits, it is very important for vegetarians to remember to make sure they are getting key nutrients, including: protein, fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium and vitamins D and B-12,’’ the study stated.
It also noted that almost half of Nigerians consume processed carbohydrates such as polished rice, pounded yam, eba, fufu, semolina, semovita, amala and wheat on a daily basis.
According to it, not all carbohydrates are the same. Many whole foods that are high in carbohydrates are quite healthy and nutritious.
“ On the other hand, processed, refined or simple carbs have had most of the nutrients and fibre removed.
“Eating processed carbohydrates is linked to an increased risk of many diseases, including obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
“Most nutritionists agree that consumption of processed carbohydrates should be moderated,’’ it said.
The study suggested that ideally, no more than a take away sized portion worth of carbohydrates should be consumed per meal to moderate the risk associated with consuming such carbohydrates.