Health News of Sunday, 23 September 2012
Mrs Joyce Okoree, Manager of CODEX Focal Point – CODEX National Committee – Ghana, has called for high and sustainable consumption of fortified food to ensure the success of the fight against micronutrient deficiencies.
She said micronutrients deficiencies were widespread and could have devastating effects on health, and contribute to diseases that could result in high rate of morbidity and mortality.
Mrs Okoree, who also works with the Ghana Standards Authority, was speaking at the just ended Regional Creating Shared Value (CSV) Forum in Lagos, Nigeria.
The Forum, the first of its kind, was organized on the theme: “The Role of Business in Food Security and Nutrition” by Nestlé in collaboration with the Lagos School of Business, a Pan African University, in Lagos,
It was attended by more than 400 participants, including high-level multi stakeholder groups, civil society groups, farmers’ organizations, research groups, government officials, the media and the academia, from 22 countries in West and Central Africa.
The forum formed part of Nestlé’s Creating Shared Value (CSV) approach, under which initiatives were designed to address the company’s business needs while scaling up sustainable investments in nutrition, water and rural development across the world.
The CSV concept, focused on connections between societal and economic progress and the potential to unleash the next wave of growth in Central and West African regions.
It was also meant to develop a responsibility and suitable supply which benefited all stakeholders along the value chain from crop to cup.
Delegates discussed concrete actions and options, which when explored could spur productivity at the farm level and transform the agricultural sector.
They also deliberated on how to harness the potential of food fortification to tackle micronutrient deficiencies, examined the role of agronomy research in arresting food insecurity, and synergized ideas for building capacity in the agricultural value chain.
Mrs Okoree said: “Fortifying foods with vitamins and minerals plays a key role in the prevention of micronutrient deficiencies, and through the addition of micronutrients to commonly consumed foods, large segments of the population could benefit from improved nutrition without major changes in their dietary habits”.
She explained that micronutrient deficiencies accounted for about 7.3 per cent of the global burden of diseases, with iron and vitamin A deficiency ranking among the 15 leading causes of the global disease burden. Mrs Okoree noted that micronutrient malnutrition had many adverse effects on human health and it was estimated to account for over 7 per cent of the global incidence of disease.
She said: “Globally, nutrition and its relationship to health and wellness have gained great importance, and about two billion people of the global population have some degree of micronutrient deficiency”.
Mrs Okoree said Iodine, Iron, and Vitamin A deficiencies have been identified as the most prominent whilst Zinc has now become an emerging concern.
Fortification is the addition of one or more micronutrient (vitamins, minerals, trace elements) to foods, to increase the content of the micronutrient to improve the nutritional quality of the food, and to provide a public health benefit with minimal health risk.
Mrs Okoree noted that fortification required thorough food safety and quality assessments due to increasing urbanisation coupled with wider availability and accessibility of packaged foods.
She said market driven fortification was important in addressing public health needs, adding “market driven fortification has a great potential in contributing to meeting nutrient requirements and thereby reducing the risk of micronutrient deficiency”.
Mrs Okoree said there was the need to properly define and strengthen the National Regulatory Framework for Fortification, so that high level of micronutrients is not consumed by specific populations.
Ms Beneta Mbecke, Regional Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager of Nestlé Central and West Africa, said Nestlé was building on its micronutrient fortification efforts in order to most efficiently target the known micronutrient deficiencies across the globe.
The company would then be in a position to add low-cost micronutrients to its Popularly Positioned Products strategy, which aimed to offer tasty, affordable foods and beverages of high nutritional quality to meet the needs of emerging consumers.