Against rising unproven claims that Nigerians are consuming too much sugar in their homes and could be responsible for health issues such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity, the Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Dr. Latif Busari says available facts on ground show that sugar intake in Nigeria was relatively low compared with other countries of the world.
Speaking at a workshop on “Sugar and Health: The myths and facts” ,Dr. Busari said there is the need to educate the public on the real causes of various health challenges wrongfully and solely associated with sugar consumption.
He noted that bad eating habits, hereditary, sedentary and ignorance contribute a great deal to some of the health issues confronting mankind.
He said the International Sugar Organization (ISO, 2018) data, showed that Nigeria and Benin Republic have the lowest per capita consumption in figure in West Africa being 6.9kg per annum, while Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire have the highest figures of 18kg and 12.1kg respectively.
“On the basis of per capita consumption, indeed for Nigeria, we are not taking enough sugar.”
He said “Nigeria’s per capita consumption has been dwindling since 2008 when it was 11.2kg to 8.6kg in 2013 and 8.1kg in 2015. Compared to these, per capita consumption in India is 19.8kg, 33.7kg in the U.S., 35.2kg in the EU countries”.
He said by the implication of all these, Nigeria is among the lowest sugar consuming nations in Africa and indeed the world.
“It is good that Nigerians are still moderate in their sugar intake but we believe as sugar council that it is not enough and we can still go to 15 or 18 kilograms,’’ Busari said.
He appealed to Nigerians to consume more sugar but not in excess, adding that sugar was not the cause of diabetes as some believed.
Dr. Busari said Nigerian-made sugar was one of the four foods fortified with Vitamin A, adding that the government made it mandatory that all sugar producers do so”.
In a paper titled ‘Sugar and Nutrition: What does evidence say?’ a Nutritionist, Dr. Aderibigbe Olaide, said that sugar provides energy to muscles and acts as a source of energy for the brain and nervous system.
On sugar consumption, Dr. Olaide said,” like most things in life, as long as you eat sugar in moderation it can only provide some sweet benefits. Healthy diet supports productivity includes sugar”.
She said “sugar intake is solely not responsible for its harmful effects on human health, but general hereditary imbalance, other lifestyle factors and improper functioning of glands and organs”.