By Penlope Ashaba,
[Food & Nutrition Journalist]
Diets are still closer to a poor score of Zero with loads of sugar and processed meats.
There have been an increased intake of legumes/nuts and non-starchy vegetables over time however this improvement has been offset by increased intake of unhealthy components such as red/processed meat, sugar, sweetened beverages and sodium.
A report by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2013 shows that plantain, starchy roots (cassava, sweet potatoes), and cereals (maize, millet, sorghum) make up most of the Ugandan diet, which is complimented by smaller amounts of pulses, nuts and green leafy vegetables.
Uganda currently produces sufficient food to meet the needs of its rapidly growing population, the proportion of Ugandans unable to access adequate calories increased from 59% in 1999 to 69% in 2006. 38% percent of children under 5 years suffer from chronic malnutrition, 16% from underweight, and 6% from acute malnutrition.
Another study by the Uganda Bureau of Standards (UBOS) on Nutrition Situation in Uganda shows that over 2 million children are stunted with Western region still ranking high in stuntedness.
James Muwonge, an official from UBOS says a normal baby should have atleast 2.5Kg urging that government should follow up on stunted children when they grow up
The study further shows that 40% children are Anemic, 44% of Adults are Anemic,
1/10 people get the minimum acceptable diet and 4/10 Households afford 2 meals a day.
UBOS says women are 5 times likely to be Obese than men
Health eating in Uganda is influenced by socioeconomic factors, including education level and urbanicity.
Nutritionists say that poor diets are responsible for more than a quarter of all preventable deaths in Uganda. Both too few healthy foods and too many unhealthy foods are contributing to national challenges in achieving recommended dietary quality.
Godfrey Nabongo, UBOS Deputy ED
says that good nutrition is a catalyst to socioeconomic development. He says that nutrition is core to achieving Human capital.
Despite everything, people have learned about good nutrition, hands in the country are not eating much healthier than they were 4 decades ago. But, Nabongo says that UBOS will support the government to have well nourished population.
Food and Nutrition experts further urge that government of Uganda should suggest and implement policies that incentivize and reward more health foods such is in health care, employer wellness programs, government nutrition programs and agricultural policies, which may have a substantial impact on improving nutrition in the country.
The National Information Platform for Nutrition in the Office of Prime Minister (OPM) appeals to parents tofeed children with at least 3 meals a day.
“Feed the child as much; those between 6 to 8 months, at least 3 times a day
Stunting is not about height but also the brain and other organs. Nutrition and food security differ; a country can be rich in food, but nutritionally poor,” PM Robinah Nabbanja.