As the global community commemorated World Milk Day Thursday, the Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) in collaboration with Three Crowns Milk, has urged the newly inaugurated administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to prioritise local milk production, which offers better health to the populace than imported milk.
The stakeholders who emphasised the importance of milk consumption in boosting the nutritional needs of citizens, however, decried the low awareness of milk intake among Nigerian population.
They explained that milk is whole food, as it contains 13 essential nutrients that play an important role in growth and development for both adults and children.
The 13 essential nutrients in milk, according to them are: protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin D, riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5) and cobalamin (B12), iodine, potassium, selenium and zinc.
Professor Tola Atinmo, nutrition director at the Nigerian Heart Foundation, in a world press conference noted the crucial functions of dairy products in maintaining healthy diets, responsible food production, and supporting livelihoods and communities. He pointed out that dairy has a vital role in global food systems, providing economic, nutritional, and social benefits to the populace.
He nonetheless bemoaned the burden of malnutrition in Nigerian children as available statistics show that 37 per cent of the 31 million children under five years are stunted due to lack of adequate milk consumption. He therefore called for the production of more dairy products locally for consumption and national economic growth.
“School feeding programmes have been identified as an important social protection mechanism as they provide good nutrition and education to children, and as well support local economies. The benefits of providing school children with milk are well-recognised. The well-known natural richness of dairy products makes them excellent sources of an abundant supply of high-quality protein, calcium phosphorus, potassium, iodine, vitamins B2 and B12.
“Evidence shows that a quality education combined with as a secure package of health and nutrition interventions at school, such as school feeding, can contribute to high cognitive children and adolescent development and build human capacity,” he stated.
The executive director, Nigerian Heart Foundation, Dr Kingsley Akinroye, dispelled the widespread notion that adults above 40 years should not take milk due to the risk of cardiovascular diseases, stressing that dairy products are essential for the maintenance of adults health.
He further explained that heart-healthy milk must be low in saturated fat, almost zero level of trans fat and must be low in sugar, which explains need for locally manufactured dairy products to meet the health needs of Nigerians .
Dr Akinroye urged the Tinubu-led government to formulate policies that will encourage local manufacturing of milk, lamenting at the present importation figure of dairy products, which is not less than 80 per cent.
“I will be glad to see in ten years time that milk local content has improved significantly, as dairy products low in sodium, saturated fat and sugar are heart-friendly”, he said.
In his contribution, Mr Victor Adeniran, brand manager, Three Crowns Milk, hinted on the activities of the company in promoting the importance of dairy in healthy diet, as they recently reached over 5000 consumers in Osogbo and Kano on healthy lifestyle.
“As a brand, we are not limited to milk promotion, but healthy lifestyle, which we have been doing for over 30 years. At Friesland Campina WAMCO, we delight in supporting our farmers to producing heart-healthy milk and we will continue to do that for the health of Nigerians”, he disclosed.