Here is why eating healthy depends on where you live in Nigeria – Businessday

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Nigerians seeking a healthy diet face a significant cost burden, with a stark difference in affordability depending on location. According to the National Bureau of Statistics’ latest report on the Cost of a Healthy Diet (CoHD), some southern states have a much higher price tag for meeting basic nutritional needs.

The CoHD represents the minimum daily cost of essential food groups to fulfill international dietary recommendations. In January 2024, the national average CoHD reached N858 per adult, excluding transportation and preparation costs.

However, significant regional variations exist. Southwestern states, including Osun, Ekiti, and Ondo, topped the list with the most expensive CoHD, ranging from N1090 to N1063 per day. Conversely, northwestern states like Katsina and Niger offered the most affordable options, with CoHDs as low as N629. Kano and Jigawa in the same region followed closely with N649 and N676, respectively.

This disparity extends to zonal comparisons. The South-West zone boasts the highest average CoHD at N1045 daily, followed by the South-East at N986. The North-West zone enjoys the lowest average cost at N683 per day.

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The report also highlights the varying affordability within food groups. Animal-source foods, while crucial for a balanced diet, are the most expensive, accounting for 38% of the CoHD despite contributing only 13% of daily calories. Fruits and vegetables, though essential, are also costly in terms of price per calorie.

Legumes, nuts, and seeds offer a brighter spot, being the most affordable food group at just 6% of the total CoHD.

These findings raise concerns about equitable access to healthy food choices across Nigeria. While some regions enjoy a lower barrier to entry for nutritious meals, others face a significant financial burden. This disparity can have lasting health consequences, potentially leading to malnutrition and diet-related illnesses.

Further investigation is needed to understand the factors driving these cost differences. Are there variations in food production and availability across regions? Do transportation and infrastructure play a role? Addressing these questions can inform policies to promote affordable and accessible healthy diets for all Nigerians.

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