A recent study by the University of Ibadan has revealed that 99.9% of school-age children in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo state, do not get enough calcium and other minerals to properly grow.

The study was conducted by a group of researchers from the University of Ibadan’s Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.

A co-lead investigator in the survey, Dr. Oluwaseun Ariyo disclosed this while addressing participants on the recommendations and outcome of the survey during a one-day workshop tagged “Ibadan Kids Nutrition and Health Survey”, held at the University of Ibadan.

According to Ariyo, an alarming number of youngsters, do not consume the recommended amounts of calcium and other minerals for their age. He also noted that students who do not take appropriate care of their health are less able to study.

He hinted that the study on children’s food intake was conducted in Ibadan’s five local governments: Ibadan North, Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast.

Also, the survey indicated that a number of pupils, though, eat large quantities of foods, but were not nutritious, saying their animal meal, legumes and fruit intake in the dietary pattern was very low.

He said, “Seven per cent of the children suffer from overweight and obesity, more than 10 per cent suffer undernutrition, indicating that malnutrition is still a big problem in the state, meaning, there’s an urgent need for government and other stakeholders to put in necessary interventions to address it.”
Ariyo suggested that soya beans, peanuts and vegetables which are sources of micronutrients should be included in children’s diet.

“These children are growing and we must know that we send these children to school, many of us pay huge amounts as school fees, and if these children are not properly fed, they will not get the best out of the school. So it means that all the investment we made in their schooling may not actually make the desired results, so we must pay attention to their meals.”

He, therefore, appealed to the government to control the type of foods children have access to in their school environments, explaining that: “In many of the schools, they have access to sugary drinks, drinks that are not contributing to their micronutrient intake, so we must ensure we promote development and consumption of healthy snacks in all our schools.

“We also identified that this problem of malnutrition is higher among older children than the younger pupils and these older children are the ones that are not presently benefitting from the school feeding programme.

“So it is important that we extend the school feeding programme to cover more children, from primary four to six.”

Earlier in an address, the principal investigator in the study, Professor Rasak Sanusi called for a holistic approach to end malnutrition among school-age children

Also speaking, provost, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Professor Olayinka Omigbodun identified nutrition as a foundation for physical and mental health, expressing displeasure that many children still go to school without breakfast.

The professor of mental health who said a nation’s wealth depends on the mental health of the populace, challenged the government to prioritise nutrition of school-age children, saying their brain cells would not develop without good nutrition.

The event had in attendance pupils from selected primary schools, scholars, and representatives from the Oyo state ministry of health and agriculture.