From Issah Alhassan, Kumasi
A CHIEF Nutritionist at the Ghana Health Service has warned Ghanaians about the habit of overindulging in the consumption of fatty and junk foods that adds excessive weight to the body mass.
Mrs. Esi Amoaful, a Deputy Nutrition Officer at the GHS, who gave the warning at a two-day workshop organized on the effects of Malnutrition for selected media personnel in Kumasi, said the dietary regime of most Ghanaians and its repercussions on health and productivity calls for concern, since it is having negative effects on Ghana's socio-economic development.
Mrs. Amoaful noted with regret, the perception that growing fat or putting on weight is an evidence of good living is wrong, stressing that many Ghanaians continue to suffer from so many diseases and health complications as a result of their diet intake.
'Many people probably think that developing a protruding belly or putting on weight is a sign that one is living well, this is not true because growing fat and plump have serious health implications that can affect individuals in their entire lives,' she noted.
According to her, the situation requires urgent attention from all stakeholders in engaging in strong campaign and advocacy programmes that will educate Ghanaians on the need to adopt a healthy nutritional lifestyle that will enhance healthy growth and increase productivity.
She was particularly worried about obesity in young children of school going age, stressing that many more children of today are growing fat, increasing their likelihood of becoming overweight in their young age.
The two-day workshop formed part of on-going efforts by the Ghana Health Services and its developing partners to generate the needed support to reverse current trends in malnutrition and improve child survival that will lead to improving key development outcomes.
The objective was to actively engage media players and seek their support in campaigning against the alarming situation of malnutrition in Ghana and to build the capacity of the media as key players in undertaking advocacy programmes that will create the necessary awareness about the dangers of malnutrition in the country.
According to statistics, Ghana has persistently high rates of malnutrition despite advances in economic growth and improvement in health indicators, with many children and women suffering from various forms and effects of malnutrition including stunting, wasting, and deficiencies in iron, iodine, and vitamin A.
In Ghana, 8 in 10 children under the age of 5 and 3 in 10 women suffer from some form of under nutrition, with increased infection and impaired physical growth, mental and anaemia as common effects.
Mrs. Amoaful, therefore, stressed the need for the adoption of a comprehensive national nutrition policy, integration of nutrition into implementation plans at all levels of government, commitment of additional resources within the health sector to scale up implementation of proven interventions and improvement of human resource capacity for nutrition, amongst other things, to address some of the major challenges.
The Ashanti Regional Director of the Ghana Health Services, Dr. Aaron Offei, said seminars of such nature were necessary to upgrade the knowledge of our media personnel and to expose them to the dangers of health related issues to our society.
Media personnel present at the seminar also made suggestions including strong collaboration between the Ghana Health Services and other regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drugs Board (FDB), the Ghana Standard Board and other Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies in ensuring the enforcement of laws regulating sales and importation of food into the country.
Meanwhile recent poor performances of Ghana's athletes and football teams in international competitions have been attributed to bad nutrition and eating habits.
According to Mrs. Wilhelmina Okwabi, Deputy Chief Nutrition Officer at the Ghana Health Services, athletes and sportsmen in Ghana are unable to compete with their foreign counterparts because most of them are not particularly careful about their diet intake.
The Deputy Chief Nutrition Officer made the call during a seminar on Malnutrition organized for selected media personnel in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions.
Ghana's performance in the just ended Olympic Games and other international competitions such as the U-20 Women's World Cup held in Japan was abysmal, with representatives exhibiting lack of energy and endurance.
She said there were clear indications from the performances of the athletes and the players that most of them lacked stamina, a situation which he said, could be partially due to high level of fatty intake and consumption of other foods that do not enhance free flow of body movement.
Mrs. Okwabi therefore said there was the need for football and sports administrators in the country to address the issue of nutrition for sportsmen by adopting stringent dietary regimes that will control their diet and prevent them gaining weight unnecessarily.