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Importance and use of reliable food composition data generation by nutrition/dietetic professionals towards solving Africa's nutrition problem: constraints and the role of FAO/INFOODS/AFROFOODS and other stakeholders in future initiatives

  • Henrietta Ene-Obong (a1), Hettie C. Schönfeldt (a2), Ella Campaore (a3), Angela Kimani (a4), Rosemary Mwaisaka (a5), Anna Vincent (a6), Jalila El Ati (a7), Pascal Kouebou (a8), Karl Presser (a9), Paul Finglas (a10) and U. Ruth Charrondiere (a11)...
Abstract

Despite the rich biodiversity of the African continent and the tremendous progress so far made in food production, Africa is still struggling with the problems of food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition. To combat these problems, the production and consumption of nutritious and safe foods need to be promoted. This cannot be achieved without reliable data on the quantity and quality of nutrients and other components provided through these foods. Food composition data (FCD) are compiled as food composition tables (FCT) or food composition databases (FCDB). These are subsequently used for a variety of purposes, ranging from clinical practice, research, public health/education, food industry to planning and policy, as well as nutrition monitoring and surveillance. To perform these functions effectively, the importance of reliable FCT/FCDB cannot be overemphasised. Poor quality FCT/FCDB have serious consequences on the health of the population, and provide skew evidence towards developing nutrition and health-related policies. The present paper reviews different methods to generate FCT/FCDB, their importance and use in assisting nutrition/dietetic professionals in solving Africa's nutrition problems; current status of FCT/FCDB generation, compilation and dissemination in Africa, constraint to their use by professionals and the role of FAO/INFOODS/AFROFOODS and other stakeholders towards improvement and future initiatives. The information provided will create awareness on the need for up-to-date and high-quality FCT/FCDB and facilitate the identification of data gaps and prioritisation of future efforts in FCD generation, compilation and dissemination in Africa and subsequent strategies for the alleviation of the food and nutrition problems in Africa.

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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Henrietta Ene-Obong, email henriettaeneobong@unical.edu.ng
References
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