When you’re rushing out in the morning for work, having a long week, and you feel stressed out or you feel lazy to cook at home, the last thing on your mind is dieting.
Naturally, you tend to reach for the available which is usually food on the go. It may not be the healthiest choice but according to some Nigerians, it is tasty, affordable, easily reached and usually very appealing.
Food on the go are food items prepared and packaged from home, and the sellers may care less about the nutritional value of their product. The concern is to sell and make some money.
The more of these foods you take, the less likely you are to consume the essential nutrients that your body relies on.
These food, usually hawked on the streets as “fast foods,” carry prices as low as N50, and are immediately filling. In most cases, those who patronise them hardly care about the nutritional value but more concern about the affordability.
The sellers are on every street in the country, including the highbrow streets of Abuja. The food items include okpa( an Igbo delicacy), beans cake(akara), Moi-moi, Fura de nunu(an Hausa/fulani delicacy), Bolie (roasted unripe plantain), Zobo, Agidi, Abacha, roasted corn, Suya, Kilishi and many others.
These foods are popular among Nigerians and many of those who patronise the street vendors hardly know about the inherent health hazards.
Mr Iheanacho Obi, a public servant at the ministry of finance in Abuja, who was seen buying roasted corn said buying from the street not only excites him, but has become a habit. “It’s a force of habit. At times you would want to have a different taste of locally made foods.
“As we all know, some of these foods have their season, you get to enjoy each of them at their own particular season. It’s time for corn and I won’t hesitate to enjoy it because when the season is over, you have to wait for another year,” he said
Ayo Johnson, a banker who could not do without buying akara on his way to work everyday also said: “I love Akara a lot as a bachelor, I struggle to wake every morning, get ready and be at work on before 7am.. What time do I have to make breakfast?”
While all I need to do is to buy bread and buy those freshly made Akara from the woman at the junction. Its tasty, reachable and highly affordable” he said
PARKLANE lead researcher Dr. Eddy Ndibuagu who spoke to the whistler said, when consumers take these foods too frequently, it replaces nutritious foods in the diet and could lead to poor nutrition, poor health, and weight gain.
“Stomach problems are also prone to occur when eating too much fast food. Some of these foods are being exposed for long, having flies and other flying objects having to infect the food which can cause the body a lot of unbalances, leading to irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis and other gastrointestinal problems” he said.
Dr Ojel Eze, the head surgeon at Mount Carmel Hospital who spoke to the whistler gave other health effects of consuming these type of fast foods. He said “Obesity is associated with these foods, because it’s being prepared with lots of fats. Even without diagnosed medical conditions, obesity may cause episodes of shortness of breath or wheezing with little exertion. Obesity also can play a role in the development of sleep apnea, a condition in which sleep is continually disrupted by shallow breathing and asthma”.she said
According to Dr ike Nwajiobi, an oncologist at Mount Carmel hospital who also spoke to the whistler about the dangers of eating fast foods said “lack of fibre is the main reason why junk food consumption is linked to an increased risk of cancers of the digestive system and consuming too much of fast food that are high in sugar and fat can increase the chances of developing colorectal cancer. Men who are up to 40 years who eat fried foods more than twice in a weak had increased risk of developing prostate cancer” he said.