Life expectancy: NHF tasks FG on heart-friendly milk, home-grown production
The Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) has urged the Federal Government to invest in and expand home grown production of milk to increase life expectancy in the country.
Dr Kingsley Akinroye, the Executive Director, NHF, gave the advice at the 2023 Commemoration of the United Nations’ World Milk Day in Lagos.
The theme of this year’s commemoration is ‘Heart Hearthy Milk, Nutritional Foods and Livelihoods.
According to him, NHF is concerned about Nigerians living long through heart healthy diets, hence the need for regular intake of heart friendly milk in the country.
“Milk is food and it is a very important component of food we should be taking everyday. We should take milk at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Milk is for everybody from the womb until 100 years,” Akinroye said.
He stressed the need for agricultural backup integration for the production of milk through empowerment of farmers in diary business.
“In NHF, we are concerned about heart healthy milk. Heart healthy milk is the milk that is low in saturated fat, has zero content of transfat, low salt, low sugar and that is why we are pushing that we need to expand production of milk in Nigeria.
“Our data so far tells us that not less than 80 per cent of the milk that we have today are imported into Nigeria and that is bad for our economy, health, life expectancy economy of the country and bad for the population of farmers.
“It is not good for our children and our youth that needs employment,” he said.
According to him, if 50 per cent of milk that Nigerians drink in Nigeria are produced within the country, a lot of people are going to be employed and lot children and adults are going to live healthy.
“So, there is the need to expand milk production in Nigeria, and not only milk for the sake of it but a heart healthy milk.
“That area of agriculture needs to be expanded, and that is what we want our new President and Governors to focus on, because we now know that milk is food and can make Nigerians live healthy.
“The country needs more investment in this area of agriculture,” the NHF boss said.
Decrying spread of unhealthy milk, the NHF boss, who blamed the situation on poor awareness, said “everybody thinks milk is milk, whereas not all milk is milk”.
According to him, the United Nations through its Food and Agricultural Organisations in 2001 started the World Milk Day because many people do not know the importance of milk.
Akinroye said that some technologically-advanced countries served milk freely to citizens every morning.
“How will they (countries serving milk daily) not be healthy than our own population? That is why we see that our life expectancy is 30 years gap to those countries.
“If we start nursing good children with milk content in their body, they will grow with good blood vessels, and the biggest blood vessels in the body is heart.
“So, their hearts and bones will be very healthy and they are bound to live longer,” he added.
Akinroye said that the NHF, in its 32 years existence had done a lot of advocacies on how Nigerians could live healthy and long through food labelling by working with the Federal Government.
According to him, the Home Grow School Feeding of the Federal Government should be well coordinated nationwide to improve heart healthy of school children.
“We need to empower our nutritionists and our scientists need to do more. Regulatory agencies should be able to tell us companies producing milk that are heart friendly.
“How much of milk do we produce within the country. We should produce more than we import.
“So, companies that are in the realm should be encouraged in terms of investment and taxation and corporate responsibility, he added.
Stating that some milk had been dropped as not measuring up with the standards, Akinroye urged companies producing milk to partner with the NHF.
In his address, Prof. Tola Atinmo, Chairman, Nutrition Committee, NHF said that in 2001, UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) established the World Milk Day in recognition of the importance of milk as a global food.
“The World Milk Day provides an opportunity to focus attention, promote education on milk and raise awareness of dairy’s part in healthy diet, responsible food production, supporting livelihoods and communities.
” Dairy has a vital role in global food systems, providing economic, nutritional and social benefits to the population,” Atinmo said.
He however said that in Nigeria, 37 per cent of about 31 million children under five years are stunted, according to official figures by United States Agency for International Aid (USAID) as a result of malnutrition.
Atinmo said: “Thus, the need for more production of milk for consumption and national economic growth.
“NHF celebrates the annual World Milk Day in view of the benefits of milk to Heart health and Nutrition, as NHF is committed to feeding our population with Heart healthy diets – with low saturated fats, low sugar, low sodium and zero transfat in the diet.”
Atinmo said that the FG’s school feeding programmes had been identified as important social protection mechanism that provided good nutrition and education to children.
“Dairy’s well-known natural nutrient-richness provides an abundant supply of high – quality protein, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, iodine, and vitamin B2 and B12.
“Evidence shows that a quality education combined with a secure package of health and nutrition interventions at school, such as school feeding, can contribute to child and adolescent development and build human capital,” he added.
Prof. Adebayo Adeyemi, Chairman, Scientific Affairs, NHF, however called for moderacy, saying anything in excess could pose a danger to the body.
In his remark, Mr Victor Adeniran, the Brand Manager, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, Nigeria Plc, maker of Three Crown Brand, said that the firm was partnering with the NHF to raise awareness about heart healthy milk and promote healthy lifestyle for Nigerians.
Adeniran said that company had been working with dairy farmers to enable efficient way of producing quality milk in the country as well as enhancing home grown production of milk.
Corroborating, Mr Kunle Abiola, the Sustainability Manager of the firm said that the company, inline with the Federal Government BackUp integration strategy and policy, collect up to 42,000 litres of milk from small holders farmers across different milk collection centres daily.
According to him, at the moment, the firm has 29 milk collection centers spread across the country and milk taken from those centres are transported to the factory every day.
He said that the milk, collected fresh daily, would be tested to ensure quality before they would go through production.