The United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, said on Wednesday that 49 per cent of children under the age of five in Nigeria are either stunted, wasted or overweight.
UNICEF Nigeria, which disclosed this in a statement also said that malnutrition remained a major public health and development concern.
According to the World body, however, breastfeeding can save lives.
It lamented that only 27 per cent of children under six months of age were exclusively breastfed and an increasing number of children were fed infant formula.
“This means many Nigerian children are missing out on the life-saving benefits of breastmilk which is a baby’s first vaccine and offers the best possible nutrition at the start of life.”
UNICEF warned that poor eating and feeding practices started from the earliest days of children’s life put them at risk of poor brain development, weak learning, low immunity, increased infections and, in many cases death.
It said the malnutrition level in the country should be tackled and appealed to government, private sector, donors, parents, families and businesses to help children grow healthy.
It said they should do this by investing more resources in interventions aimed at preventing malnutrition among young children and supporting treatment when prevention fails, supporting nursing mothers to adequately feed and care for their children.
It also advocated the empowering of families, children and young people to enable them to “demand nutritious food, including improving nutrition education and using proven legislation such as sugar taxes to reduce demand for unhealthy foods.”
UNICEF said healthy food environments for children and adolescents should be built by using proven approaches such as accurate and easy-to-understand labelling and stronger controls on marketing unhealthy foods.
It also said supportive systems on health, water, sanitation, education and social protection should be mobilised to scale up nutrition results for all children.