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30.03.2004 General News

Poor nutrition affects IQ of Ghanaian children

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Accra, March 30, GNA - The Intelligent Quotient (IQ) of Ghanaian children has generally reduced due to poor dietary composition of their food coupled with little attention paid to good nutritious diet. Major Courage Quashigah (rtd), Minister of Food and Agriculture, said Ghanaian parents should not be deceived by the wonders their children could perform on the computers today because they fell short on issues of common sense.

Major Quashigah made the observation when he inaugurated an 18-member Multi-Sectoral Working Group to improve the nutritional quality of institutions in Ghana. The Group comprised professionals from the Nutritional Unit of Ghana Health Services, Food and Drugs Board, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning Ministry of Education Youth and Sports, Health Education Unit, Ghana Home Science Association, Post-Harvest Working Group and Institute of Packaging, Ghana. Others included the Conference of Heads and Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS), Ghana Private-Public Partnership for Food Industry, Advance Food Processing; Animal, Crop and Fisheries Directorates of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Major Quashigah said: "Even though there are no statistics in the country to ascertain the IQ of this generations, it was obvious that the IQ of our offspring generally has dropped...they see smoke coming out from an electric wire and they will scream Daddy, Mummy come and see. It will not occur to them to switch off the current from the mains."

Major Quashigah said: "If we as nation fail to do something about the situation, we would suffer the consequences of an unintelligent generation. Referring to assertions made by Professor Agyemang-Badu Akosah, Director-General of the Ghana Health Services, Major Quashigah said: "What Ghanaians do best as far as eating was concerned was to load themselves with carbohydrates and drink oil on top." He said though Ghanaian Scientists and Nutritionists had undertaken a lot of research to produce documents to guide the diet composition of the people with proper balanced nutrients, the nation had paid little attention to their diet.

"We are, therefore, susceptible to all kinds of avoidable illnesses and deaths that we eventually blame on the elderly described as a witch," Major Quashigah said. Major Quashigah said school-feeding programmes had become a source of ridicule by students compelling parents to spend between one and three million cedis to buy provisions for their children to take to school after paying so much for their feeding. He, therefore, asked the group to brainstorm on the issue to come out with Nutritious Diet Menu for children in schools.

The Minister said Ghana had reached a stage in its development where it needed to provide some guidance to the population as to the combination of nutrients to enhance growth, development and maintenance of the human body. "We have the expertise to develop all kinds of combinations and permutations of our food items to generate enhanced nutrition for our people," he said.

Mrs Julian Dinnis, Acting Director of Women In Agricultural Development (WIAD), said the project to initiate a "Home Grown School Feeding Programmes" was set to carry out case studies of the numerous nutritional problems associated with institutional feeding in Ghana.