The federal government must increase taxes on sugary fiids and beverages to combat malnutrition in Nigeria.
The Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition Director Sandy Thomas made the appeal Wednesday in Abuja.
“Government of Nigeria can put taxes on sugary drinks, foods,’ she said.
“In Mexico, this is beginning to have effects on the amount of sugary things that people buy.”
The professor also advised the government to subsidise nutritious foods in public places to assist consumers make informed decisions on nutritious foods.
“We need to use government influence, power of industry, civil society to make sure consumers can also exercise good choices on what to eat,’’ she said.
She expressed regret over the increasing number of malnourished and stunted children especially in the North East and North West of the country as a result of the consumption of those foods.
According to her, Nigeria needs to transform her food environment in ways that promote diversity, availability and safety of nutritious foods.
She noted that making nutritious foods available in prisons, hospitals and schools would encourage the consumption of healthy foods.
Beverage and food companies invested about 17 per cent of the global spending on advertisement in 2012 just to get people patronise their products that are not so helpful.
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She said that consumption of processed foods was the major cause of malnutrition, obesity, type 2 diabetes, which are on the increase in developing countries.
The Panel, founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development, was established in August 2013 at the Nutrition for Growth Summit in London.
It is an independent group of experts and leaders who hold or have held high office and are showing strong personal commitment to improving nutrition.
The panel aims to provide guidance to decision makers, particularly governments, to inform and promote agricultural and food policies, and investment for improved nutrition in low and middle income countries.