By Paul Obi in Abuja

Excessive salt in Nigerian foods have been linked to increased cases of diabetes, kidney related diseases and high blood pressure in the country.

According to a consultant at the Harvard Medical School, United States, Dr Li-Li Hsiao, Africans, and Nigerians in particular are genetically salt sensitive, thereby, prone to high cases of diabetes and high blood pressure.

She called on government to expedite action in creating awareness on the need to reduce salt intake, which is one of the major causes of obesity and kidney diseases.

Hsiao made this known at the Piwuyi Reach Out and Touch outreach which was organised by the Redeemed Christian Church of God, the Throne Room Parish, Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

She explained that Nigerian foods were prepared with too much salt, and as a result, there must be an awareness to educate people on how to eat properly with respect to balanced diet and low intake of salt.

“Nigerian foods are too salty and so increases high blood pressure and so there needs to be an awareness educating people to reduce their salt intake.

“The black population is genetically very salt sensitive and so when they eat high salt food, there is high risk of high blood pressure and from that, there is the risk of heart disease and other organs such as kidney disease. So people must cut down on salt intake at the community level.”

“Nigerian foods are so favoured with lots of spice. So the use of salt can be reduced with the use of spice which will make the food to taste good and less salty.”

“Government should develop a similar type of community programme in collaboration with this kind of activity and should have it in sessions where the people will be taught and lectured. I don’t know how much they will remember but repetition works. I hope nutritionists in this country will begin to think of recipes to help people,” she stated.

‎The Pastor of the Parish, Tunde Benjamins-Laniyi, told journalists that the programme which started five years ago was aimed at extending the love of Christ to the needy with support from church members, partners and donors from private and corporate organisations.

“It’s also a medical outreach where we get in-house doctors and some of them are volunteers and our friends from other churches. The programme is elaborate, running into millions of naira and successfully done by the grace of God,” he said.

Head of the church Evangelism Team, Chichi Emodi further stated that the programme focuses on bringing succour to the down trodden, as well as extending the frontiers of evangelism.