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UN agency sponsors nutrition workshop for West Africa in Burkina Faso

UN agency sponsors nutrition workshop for West Africa in Burkina Faso

Improving the diets of West Africans facing nutritional deficiencies will be the focus of a workshop next week in Burkina Faso sponsored by the United Nations and research institutions.

"Food-based approaches for a healthy nutrition in West Africa: the role of food technologists and nutritionists" is slated to meet from 23 to 28 November in Ouagadougou, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.

"Nearly 35 per cent of (West African) children under 5 years of age are stunted, a sign of chronically poor diet, while about 5 to 15 per cent of young children are wasted, a sign of acute hunger," FAO said.

"At the same time, overweight and obesity, which can lead to diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer, are emerging problems among some urban populations in West Africa."

The most widespread deficiencies among the 226 million West Africans are vitamin A, iron and iodine, the UN agency said, but these can be prevented by adding palm oil, citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, papaya, mangoes, green leafy vegetables, legumes and animal flesh to the diet.

FAO said it would urge better food production and dietary diversification, as well as increased support for appropriate storage, processing, and marketing.

The other workshop sponsors are the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, the University of Ouagadougou, and the Institut de Recherché pour le Développement (IRD) in France.

The countries whose representatives are expected to take part in the workshop are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.