Nutrition is an unavoidable factor in education and health growth of a nation. A healthy student is a productive student. Good nutrition is increasingly perceived as an investment in human capital that yields returns today as well as in the future, while bad nutrition is a treat to the nation. The global loss of social productivity in 1990 is caused by four overlapping types of malnutrition â?? stunting and disorders related to iodine iron and vitamin A deficiency â?? amounted to almost 46 million years of productive disability â?? free life nutrition raises returns on investment in education and health care Online dietetics degree.
A body of literature observed that there is a heavy decline in knowledge in Nigeria from 1980s unlike the past years. Some attributed this decline to the malnutrition during the past civil war. A researcher noted that in the 1980s Nigeria had the lowest number of indigenous engineers of any Third World country. The teaching of English, which is the language of instruction beyond primary school, had reached such poor levels that university faculty complained their inability to understand the written work of their students due to ineffective communication there is a lot of quack graduates and workers in the country. By 1990 the crisis in education was such that it was predicted that in few decade to come, there would be insufficient personnel to run essential services of the country. This calls for a serious attention before the nation losses all her skilled labour force. I have categories these problems into two major nutritional factors, the problem of undernutrition and malnutrition. The purpose of this write â?? up is to review the impact of nutrition on the present and past and necessary steps taken to arrest the situation. It will also provide some relevant solutions to the problem.
Nigeria as a country is characterized by two major nutritional problems which includes undernutrition and micronutrient. The rest have little impact and may be reserved for now.
Undernutrition is characterized by inadequate intake of macronutrients. It often starts in utero and may extend throughout the life cycle. It also spans generations. Undernutrition occurs during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence, and has a cumulative negative impact on the birthweight of future babies. A baby who has suffered intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) as a fetus is effectively born malnourished, and has a much higher risk of dying in infancy. The consequences of being born malnourished extend into adulthood. During infancy and early childhood, frequent or prolong infections and inadequate intakes of nutrients (particularly energy, iron, protein, vitamin A, and Zinc) may add to the contribution of IUGR to preschool underweight and stunting. In Nigerian situation, infants after period of exclusive breast feeding are followed up with weaning which consist of pap, akamu, ogi, or koko and is made from maize (Zee Mays), millet (pennisetum americanum), or guinea corn (sorghum spp.). People from low income groups seldom feed meat, eggs, or fish to their infants, because of socio-economic factors, taboos, and ignorance.
In Anambra State, Nigeria, Agu observed that pap contained only 0.5% protein and less than 1% fat, as compared with 9% protein and 4% fat in the original corn. This is usually due to poor processing. Akinele and Omotola investigated the energy and protein intake of infants and children of the low income group. They reported that about one-third to one-half of the infants suffered varying degrees of malnutrition and 10% were wasted and stunted. A more recent Nigerian National Survey conducted by the Demographic and health Survey (DHS) in 1990 placed the proportion of underweight children under five years of age (those below â??2SD weight-for-age ) at 36% including 12% severely underweight. (below -3 SD). The prevalence of stunting (below â??2 SD height â?? for â?? age) was 43% including 22% severe stunting (below â?? 3SD) while the levels of wasting and severe wasting were 9% and 2% respectively. In 1986 in Ondo State, Nigeria, DHS Survey of children aged 6 to 36 months is 28% prevalence for underweight, 32% for stunting, and 7% for wasting.
For adults and older children, it is usually possible to achieve an adequate protein â?? energy intake by increasing the daily intake of starchy foods of low nutrient density. For infants and small children, however, the volume of the traditional diets maybe too large to allow the child to ingest all the food necessary to cover his or her energy needs. A baby aged four to six months would need 920g of corn gruel to meet daily needs of energy (740 Kcal) and protein (13g). This is an impossible task, considering the size of an in factâ??s stomach.
President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo rightly observed that almost half of children ages 7-13 in Nigerian are continue underweight. A lot of children and adults go to bed starved and some take one meal a day which mostly consists of carbohydrates.
Micronutrient is another hard nut to break in the area of nutrition. It is the inadequate intake of key vitamins and minerals. It can be observed both among the rural and urban dwellers in Nigeria. The lack of vitamins and minerals result in irreversible impairment to child physical and mental development. Apart from the indirect effects on the mother, micronutrient deficiencies during pregnancy have serious implications for the developing fetus. Iodine deficiency disorders may cause foetal brain damage or still birth (mental retardation, delayed motor development) and stunting. Iodine deficiency in during foetal development and infancy has been shown to depress intelligence quotient levels by 10-15 points. Foliate deficiency may result in neural tube or other birth defects and preterm delivery, and both iron deficiency anemic and vitamin A deficiency may have significant implications for the future infantâ??s morbidity and mortality risk, vision, cognitive development reduce their ability to concentrate and fully participate in school and socially interact and develop. It is on record that 40% of children under 5 years of age suffer vitamin A deficiency. It is the major cause of preventable, severe visual impairment and blindness in children. The most vulnerable is a high percentage of pre-schoolchildren and pregnant women who are anemic. These two nutrition problem are enormous in Nigeria situation have a great impact in the economy and social life of the country.
THE EFFECT OF NUTRITION ON NATIONAL EDUCATION:
Nutrition has a dynamic and synergistic relationship with economic growth through the channel of education. Behrman cites three studies suggesting that, by facilitating cognitive achievement, child nutrition and schooling can significantly increase wages. In utero, infant and child nutrition affects later cognitive achievement and learning capacity during school years, ultimately increasing the quality of education gained as a child, adolescent and adult. Parental education affects in utero, infant and child nutrition directly through the quality of care given (Principally maternal) and indirectly through increased household income. Human capital development, primarily through education, has received merited attention as a key to economic development, but early childhood nutrition has yet to obtain the required emphasis as a necessary facilitator of education and human capital development.
A recent research shows that early childhood nutrition plays a key role in cognitive achievement, leaning capacity and ultimately, household welfare. For example, protein – energy malnutrition (PEM) deficiency, as manifested in stunting is linked to lower cognitive development and education achievement; low birth weight is linked to cognitive deficiencies; iodine deficiency in pregnant mothers negatively affects the mental development of their children can cause delayed maturation and diminished intellectual performance; iron deficiency can result in impaired concurrent and future learning capacity. This goes a long way to prove that nutrition have a great impact to national education as Nigeria is fully experiencing this ugly impact now and in time to come.