Ms Gloria Kobati, the Upper East Regional Nutrition Officer of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), is calling on parents and boarding schools to serve adolescent girls with balanced diets for their healthy development.
She said while some adolescent girls did not have enough to eat, others had irregular eating habits that affected their nutrition, as most of them were cautious of weight gain denying themselves of essential food, which could result in them being malnourished.
Ms Kobati who gave the advice in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Bolgatanga, said both conditions of overweight and under-weight affected the health of young girls and encouraged them to eat well.
“There is this crave for eating sweets, soft drinks and fast foods which is common with adolescents and most of these have no nutritional value in them, but if you must eat those foods, then, it would be better to include vegetables and protein among others,” Ms Kobati said.
“When you are anaemic, you cannot study in class, your productivity is low, and you cannot concentrate in class,” she added.
She said as part of efforts to improve nutrition and iron status of adolescents, the Ghana Health Service was implementing an iron and folic tablets supplementation programme for adolescents, to boost their anaemia status.
The Nutrition Officer noted that though the medicines were currently in short supply, the programme would be re-activated by the end of 2022, and urged adolescents to embrace it by accepting to take the supplements when health personnel served it to them.
She said all social mobilization had been done to encourage more young girls to take the tablets.
Ms Kobati reiterated that there was a high rate of teenage pregnancy in the region and the provision of iron and folic acid to adolescent girls would improve their iron status and especially help those who get pregnant to be healthy and have healthy babies.
She expressed concern about food security in the region and said it had started impacting on the nutrition status of children and mothers.
She urged government and District Assemblies to support women who do not have farmlands to undertake dry season gardening to grow leafy vegetables among others to improve on their nutrition and that of their children, with other income generating ventures.