Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), an NGO, has recommended a shift from unhealthy diets to planetary health diet to prevent 11 million adult premature deaths in Nigeria yearly.
It also said that planetary health diet would drive a transition towards a sustainable global food system by 2050.
This is according to a 2019 EAT-Lancet Commission Report on “Planetary health diet for over 400 million people by 2050: What the EAT-Lancet commission report means for Nigeria”, co-launched by GAIN.
Mr Michael Ojo, the Country Director of GAIN in a statement on Thursday, said the study was conducted by 37 experts from 16 countries in various fields of human health, agriculture and environmental sustainability.
According to him, the study is carried out to develop global scientific targets for healthy diets from sustainable food production.
“The study also reveals that globally, over 820 million people continue to go hungry every day and 150 million children suffer from long-term hunger that impairs their growth and development.
“Fifty million children are acutely hungry due to insufficient access to food and in parallel, the world is also experiencing a rise in over weight and obesity.
“The study further showed that today, over 2 billion adults are over-weight and obese and that diet-related non-communicable diseases including diabetes, cancer and heart disease are among the leading causes of global deaths,” he said.
He however proffered consumption of a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes alongside small portions of meat and dairy products amounting to 2500 kcal per day for a healthier food lifestyle and balance.
“Planetary diets will require access to certain food groups, because the planetary health diets require a significant reduction in the overconsumption of unhealthy foods.
“It will also mean provision of various food groups that can be adapted to locally by geography, culinary traditions and personal preferences.
“So farmers, public vendors and food service professionals should gather information and focus on producing high volumes of crops and food that are varied and nutrient-rich,” he said.
He said that there was something for everyone across price ranges, culture, age groups and individual preference with more than 30,000 known edible plants leaving humans with interesting options to taste and explore.
GAIN urged Nigerians to plan, cook and prepare meals at home, as food made at home are flexible, dynamic, tasty, healthier and sustainable compared to food bought outside the home.
“Cooking and preparing food at home provides great opportunity for shared family time and allows for healthy recipe to be passed along from generation to generation including tastes.
“Nigerians must know that although meat is an important source of key nutrients including protein, iron and vitamin B12, but excess meat consumption can harm our health and the planet.
“They should aim to consuming no more than 98 grams of red meat, pork, beef or lamb, 203 grams of poultry and 196 grams of fish per week and 125 grams of dry beans, peas, nuts or legumes per day,” he said.
GAIN urged the Nigerian government to formulate, focus on policies and strategies that would encourage Nigerians on healthy diets to curb hunger and malnutrition, and create a sustainable healthy food system.
“Nigeria needs to do things with its food production systems to make more nutritious food choices available in a sustainable way.
“The food systems will determine the quality of people’s diet at the household level, shaping the demand, availability, affordability and desirability of safe and nutritious food,” he added.
He advised that farmers should gather information and focus on producing high volumes of crops that are varied and nutrient-rich.