Zimbabwe lacks diversity in child nutrition: Unicef
BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
ZIMBABWE is one of 19 countries that have seen no improvement in the diversity of child nutrition over the past decade, UNICEF’s 2021 Child Nutrition Report released yesterday showed.
The report, which was based on nutrition statistics from 50 countries around the world, shows that typically in many countries there are significant gaps in ensuring that young children are getting enough of the diverse and nutritious foods they need during their life. the most critical period of their development. .
Published statistics show that between 2010 and 2020, in Zimbabwe, the proportion of children aged 6-23 months with minimal dietary diversity remained below 20%.
The results show that 79% of women in Zimbabwe and others in middle and low income economies said they could not afford to provide nutritious food to their babies.
âAn analysis of trends in minimum dietary diversity in different countries shows how few countries have made progress in diversifying children’s diets over time,â Unicef ââsaid.
âOf the 50 countries for which trend data is available, less than half (21 countries) achieved statistically significant improvements, 19 saw no significant improvement and 10 saw a statistically significant decrease in the percentage of children consuming an undiversified diet.
âYoung children’s diets do not meet their needs from their first day of transitioning to solid foods until their second birthday. “
The report further reveals that young children in high-, middle- and low-income countries consume ultra-processed foods and drinks on a daily basis, which has a negative effect on their health.
In Zimbabwe, 29% of children consume unhealthy sweet juices daily.
Unicef ââencourages mothers to only breast-feed their infants until they are six months old.
“Sugary drinks or juices were consumed daily by about one in three children in Ghana, Mexico, Serbia, Sudan and Zimbabwe,” Unicef ââsaid.
âVery few mothers reported consuming soft drinks without alcohol on a daily basis among young children, except in Mexico (5%) and Nigeria (10%). These findings are disturbing on four levels.
âFirst, infants should not consume anything other than breast milk until they are six months old.
âSecond, unhealthy foods and drinks can replace more nutritious foods in children’s diets and increase the risk of micronutrient deficiencies. Third, these foods can also set preferences for sweet tastes that persist later in life.
“Fourth, diets high in processed and ultra-processed foods may increase the risk of childhood obesity.”
Unicef ââurged governments to increase the availability, accessibility and affordability of nutritious foods for young children.
âGovernments should identify locally available and inexpensive nutritious foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes and animal foods, and make them the subject of national policies, programs and guidelines to address these nutrient deficiencies in the diets of young children, âthe report reads.
âTo increase the accessibility and affordability of these nutritious foods, it is crucial to create incentives that encourage their production, distribution and retail sale.
âWhere nutrient-poor diets and micronutrient deficiencies are common, governments should also develop and implement national programs to support the production and use of fortified foods for children aged six to 23 months. . “
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