Nigeria has joined the rest of the world to celebrate Protein Day, an annual event dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of protein in human diets. ‘Right To Protein’ – a public health awareness initiative in South-Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa regions also announced the launch of Nigeria’s first-ever protein calculator called ‘Protein-O-Meter’.
The formal announcement of Nigeria’s inaugural Protein Day commemoration, which took place on Monday, February 27, 2023, was made on February 22 during the launch of the United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC)-promoted ‘Right To Protein’ initiative. The theme for this year’s Protein Day celebration, ‘Easy Access to Protein for All’, was to highlight the accessibility of protein-rich foods to Nigerians while underscoring the need for all to learn more about available protein foods that can be incorporated into their diets.
Nigerians can access the ‘Protein-O-Meter’ tool by logging on to ‘Right To Protein’. ‘Protein-O-Meter can help citizens to calculate their daily protein requirement based on individual information such as body profile, type of lifestyle and by sharing detailed inputs of the food consumed at different times of the day.
The ‘Protein-O-Meter can assess protein content in local Nigerian cuisines and dishes such as akara, moin-moin, akamu, egusi, semo, tuwo, fanke, ojojo, nunu, banga, etc. The goal of this tool is to showcase the protein gap in one’s diet, act as a reminder to all citizens to be aware of their protein goals and consume one-fourth protein in every meal.
While protein is the most essential macronutrient for our overall wellbeing, protein deficiency continues to be a trigger for many health concerns. Awareness of protein foods, their benefits and long-term behaviour change among citizens are imperative. To drive this mission, Protein Day and tools such as the ‘Protein-O-Meter’ will help drive self-awareness and behaviour change.
Protein plays a key role in the growth, repair, and maintenance of body tissues. It is an essential nutrient and is particularly important for children, pregnant women, older adults, and individuals who engage in physical activities such as sports and exercise.
Meanwhile, recent studies have shown that majority of Nigerians do not consume enough protein in their diets, mainly due to the cost of protein foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and others. Protein deficiency is a prevalent problem, particularly among vulnerable populations, in the country. This often leads to various health challenges, including stunted growth, weakened immune systems, and poor cognitive development.
“Protein is very important to sound health and productive living. This year’s Protein Day celebration is to help promote access to quality protein sources for Nigerians, even as we continue to drive awareness about the need for adequate protein consumption,” says Dr. Michael David, Country Representative of USSEC.
He added: “Beyond the Protein Day celebrations, the Right to Protein initiative will continue to work to bring together individuals and institutions who can help drive protein awareness, debunk myths and misconceptions about protein food sources, and establish its importance as a critical macro-nutrient for the nutritional wellbeing of people.”
The Protein Day celebration in Nigeria is a reminder of the critical role that nutrition plays in our overall health and wellbeing. Nigerians are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity as well as the Right to Protein initiative to learn more about healthy eating habits and the importance of protein in their diets.