NATIONAL FOOD AND NUTRITION COMMISSION BEMOANS HIGH LEVELS OF MALNUTRITION AMONG ADOLESCENT AGE GROUP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.
Lusaka, July 24/07/2023-National Food and Nutrition Commission (NFNC) has bemoaned the high levels of micro nutrient deficiencies amongst the majority of the adolescent girls due to limited adolescent-focused nutrition programmes in the country. This came to light during a two days workshop held in Kabwe on the 20th of July, 2023.
NFNC organized a two-day consultative workshop with all the line ministries and concerned stakeholders namely UNICEF, Plan International and CRS to discuss the findings from the formative study supported by Unicef to identify priority actions and help develop a framework for actions with a multi-sectoral integrated service package for adolescent nutrition in Zambia.
“Adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable to iron deficiency, with the highest prevalence of iron deficiency anemia between ages 15-19 years at 33.4%, compared to 28.6% in women aged 20-29, and a national average of 31% in women aged 15-49 years. Adolescents in Zambia make up over 25% of the total population” said Mr. Mhuru.
He indicated Zambia has limited adolescent-focused nutrition programmes with multi-sectoral interventions to address all forms of malnutrition, including support to enhancing their diet. Adolescents face a triple burden of malnutrition as they are affected by undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies anaemia, overweight and obesity whose rates are raising. There is need to strengthen coordination among multiple stakeholders and sectors in Zambia to address adolescent nutrition needs, as well as leverage existing coordination mechanisms.
Adolescents are a priority group for nutrition action as the nutrition status during adolescence has a profound impact on the current and future health and provides the window of opportunity for establishing lifelong healthy eating habits for themselves and the next generation.
Investing in adolescent nutrition has the potential to address any nutritional problems that we are seeing today and can greatly improve the nutritional status of the future mothers. Nutrition during this time has a far-reaching impact on adult health and nutrition status, productivity, and the economy.
And Plan International adolescent, Cathy Chabala of Chibombo called on the government to come up with vegetables and fruit shops in schools so that young boys and girls can have access to nutritional foods like fruits and vegetable smoothies unlike having tuck shops selling foods which have no nutritional value.
She however, called on all leaders, teachers and all parents to help the adolescents fight malnutrition by providing them with the right information on their nutritional needs.