Contributing to SDGs 3 through healthy lifestyles and healthy eating habits

As beautiful as the world is, mortality plagues humans of all gender and ages- especially women and children. Hence, as part of the 2030 agenda to ensure sustainable development in the area of health; the third among the Sustainable Development Goals focuses on “Good health and well-being for all at all ages”. Some of its major targets include to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births; end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other communicable diseases by 2030; and reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being; among others.

No doubt, lifestyles, eating habit, access to primary health care, maternal care and many others are catalysts to good health and wellbeing. Reducing premature mortality from non-communicable diseases is strongly linked to lifestyles and eating habits which of course, requires personal discipline. Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are now receiving more attention all over the world, including Nigeria in view of increase in cases of NCDs and associated fatality. World Health Organisation (WHO) records that 12% of deaths in Nigeria, is attributable to cardio-vascular diseases (CVD), such as systemic hypertension, cancer, diabetes, and other rising incidence of Cardio vascular Disease risk factors. Diabetes mellitus which was hitherto rare is now on the increase, as a result of obesity, physical inactivity and urbanization. In fact, it has been projected that by 2020, cancer incidence in Nigerian males will rise to 90.7/100,000 and for females to 100.9/100, 000.

Meanwhile, concerted efforts have been made by the Federal Ministry of Health since 1988 to reduce the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria. The Non-Communicable Disease Control Programme, now a Division, was established in 1989 with the mandate to serve as the arrowhead of the response to NCDs in Nigeria. Also, in 2014, Nigerian Federal Government made effort through the Non-Communicable Disease Control Programme of the Federal Ministry of Health to put together a National Nutritional Guideline on Non-Communicable Disease Prevention, Control and Management. This guideline was supposed to be used by all Nigerians especially health professionals and those who have already developed any of the diet-related NCDs.

Individuals and communities must adopt healthy lifestyles and healthy eating habits as their personal contribution to the realisation of the SDG 3: “Good health and well-being for all at all ages”. Culturally, diets in Nigeria are largely made of fibre-rich carbohydrates, minimal fat, and sparring protein however, this has been replaced with an increased consumption of fast food restaurants – serving meals with high salt and sugar content, often also containing saturated fat. This goes hand in hand with an increase in the availability of bottled drinks. Furthermore, canned fruit juices are becoming fashionable and are replacing natural fruits.

Additionally, in recent times, a sedentary lifestyle and low energy-demanding vocations, facilitated by the availability of mass transportation systems across various parts of the country, and further complemented by more people using private vehicles to commute are contributory to the health and well-being of the people. Similarly, advancements in technologies, such as live television broadcasts, computers, the internet, and electronic games, have also made millions of Nigerians more stationary.

As individuals, inactive people at all ages should start with small amounts of physical activity, as part of their daily routine, and gradually increase duration, frequency, and intensity over time. Some of the things every individual can do to achieve this SDG 3 is to engage in sports, and other activities such as playing, walking, household chores, gardening, and dancing.

These activities- be it for work, to walk or cycle to and from places, or as part of leisure time- have a health benefits and they can help achieve a good health and well-being for all at all ages. Most importantly to achieve the target goal of reducing by one-third the rate of premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by 2030.

Written by Ms Ifeoluwa Akinola (An intern)