A dietician, Motunrayo Oduneye, says that the consumption of soft drinks or sugary beverages is fueling the malnutrition crisis in the country.
Oduneye, an Assistant Chief Dietitian, University College Hospital, Ibadan, made the assertion on Wednesday in Ibadan while speaking with newsmen.
Oduneye said that soft drinks are high in calories and sugar with zero nutrients.
According to her, children who habitually consume soft drinks are less likely to eat nourishing foods because such drinks suppress appetite.
She said that carbonated drinks and juices contain minimal or empty calories rather than nutrients that are supposed to benefit the child’s proper growth and development.
“Mothers should not form the habit of giving their children carbonated drinks and juices.
“Juice or carbonated drinks occupy unnecessary space in the tummy thereby hindering children from taking an adequate diet that will be beneficial to them.
“From postgraduate research done on some selected carbonated drinks few years back, we saw that there were a lot of heavy metals which were put inside these juices as a form of preservatives,” she said.
“Unfortunately, these metals are occupying the space that a nutrient-dense diet should have.
“Fizzy, carbonated drinks and juices are empty calories that give unnecessary satiety to a child and unfortunately, deprive them of the major and micronutrients necessary for the growth and development of that child.
“If a child is not taking adequate amount of major and micronutrients in a day, of course, the nutritional status will be impaired, and it will have effect at the family, the community and the state levels,” she said.
The nutritionist cautioned parents against indulging their children, saying eating junk foods or any type of food for that matter is a learned behaviour.
“These children didn’t learn any eating habit from heaven, they learned it when they got here; if a child is always craving for carbonated drinks at a very young age, I will put the blame on the mother,” she said.