Food Security: High cost of living infringes on healthy feeding in Cameroon
High cost of living infringes on healthy feeding in Cameroon
According to a nutritionist, several parents in Cameroon impart in their children bad feeding habits, which makes them very vulnerable to obesity.
It is 3pm, Elangwe Mary Ethe in Bonaberi, in the Douala 4 subdivision, just finished cooking her chicken source, and is supervising water on the fire for rice and pasta food. The food she is preparing will be consumed both by her 60-year-old husband and her 11-year-old daughter. In her home she gives the same food to everyone. « I give the same kind of food I eat to my children who are below 20, because it is expensive to be cooking different type of food. That is Food for the children who are below 20 and our own food. The only difference is the one of my husband which does not have salt ».
Few kilometers away from Mary, is Engome Gladis Missango mother of two boys, who lives at Akwa Nord in the Douala 1 subdivision. She has an age limit before she starts giving what adults eat to her kids. She says : «Under 2 years old, I don’t give the same. But as from 2, we eat the same thing, except some in particular cases» that is when the child is sick».
According to Ingrid Ngouné, a nutritionist, Asides the diet of children between zero to about five years which is to be controlled by a pediatrician, those above the age of nine can eat what adults eat. She precises that, the quantity of food a child eats is determined by his or her height, weight, size, and age, because their system does not need to be saturated with so much calories which may cause them to gain too much weight. « The more a child grows old, the more his food needs micronutrients because it is all of these that builds up the immune system of the child. They are the ones that help the child when he is sick or tired», Ingrid explains.
If the food of a 20-year-old is given to a nine-year-old for example, there will be the accumulation of too much calories which becomes very dangerous for the child. «Children of varied ages can eat the same food, but the quantity will be different. Food is like medicine, before you take it, you need some prescriptions. For example, the quantity of food given to a 20-year-old will not be the same for a 9-year-old because they don’t need the same amount of nutrients a day» says Ingrid .
Though nutritionists advice children eat healthily, the reality on the ground is different. Based on statistics published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on June 7th 2023, 11% of the Cameroonian population faces acute food insecurity. This represents 3 million people . These are the results of the March 2023 Harmonized Framework analysis indicate that the Far North, North-West and South-West regions are the most affected.
In order to address the rising rate of malnutrition in the country, a food and awareness forum will be organized from the 7th to 9th (SAB 2023) of December in Douala. Experts will be talking to the population on the need to eat properly.
Rex Afon (Intern)