The diet of many a Nigerian child is afflicted by a national disease: noodles. I say Indomie Noodles cos that’s what we eat. Any other noodles is a counterfeit.
That stuff is so easy to make, and to lessen the guilt of feeding junk to kids on a regular basis, some parents try to fortify Indomie so much that one might begin to wonder if rice, stew (not tomato stew please!), salad and chicken would not have been prepared with much less effort.
The larger problem though, in my opinion, is the unhealthy dietary habit it nurtures. With dairy – deficient diets poor in protein content, coupled with certain myths surrounding egg consumption by children, most people don’t reach their genetic potentials. Girls are more affected because they stop growing tall earlier than their male counterparts.
With public and private schools not having strong dietary programmes for kids in their care, and parents, including the wealthy, being too busy to pay the least attention to their children’s academic progress, society now has to deal with a huge army of short and malnourished people.
Indeed, a recent study shows that micronutrient deficiency is a big problem among children of the rich.
By the time many of these kids become college undergraduates, majority have acquired the habit of surviving on junk meals. At that time, most barely stand taller than 5 ft, and the long bones have stopped growing. The boys might grow a bit taller, but of course, 6 ft will usually be a tall dream.
The tale is far from finished.
Inner city kids who drop out of school are more likely to grow taller than their more accomplished mates. Corruption has since crept into boarding school dining halls. Well, perhaps it is better to be short and smart, than tall and dumb.
I have also noticed that school playgrounds have become something of a luxury in many private schools in our towns and cities. Parking space sef na struggle. No wonder kids now have to contend with bow legs and knock knees from poor exposure to sunlight. Pupils who attend rural schools tend to fare better in this regard.
The bottom line is: pay a little more attention to what the children eat, and ensure they get sufficient protein, vitamins and minerals in their diets.
Cut back on consumption of processed foods and diets rich in refined sugar. They aren’t as nutritious and as safe as our fibre – rich, local delicacies.
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