In the face of the second wave of Covid-19 that recently ravished our country, many youths succumbed to the deadly disease, a very sad turn of events. Following this tragic period, and in relation to this year’s International Youth Day 2021 theme “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health’’, it is evident that some of our food choices as youths directly affects our health. Research shows and proves that when one contracts the virus, the state in which it finds their body contributes a big percentage to how one reacts to it. For instance, a person who consumes healthy foods like vegetables and fruits is most likely to beat the disease. It is public knowledge that a healthy lifestyle in especially feeding, boosts one’s immune system and equips the body with the ability to fight off the virus, viral infections are self-limiting which basically means that the body has to fight the infection on its own.
During the 2021 ECOSOC Youth Forum (EYF), the issues and priorities highlighted by young participants included the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly related to its effect on human health, the environment, and food systems. As part of the official outcome recommendations of the EYF, young participants stressed the importance of working towards more equitable food systems. In addition, they highlighted the need for youth to make informed decisions on food choices through increasing global education on the healthiest and most sustainable options for both individuals and the environment.
The food system is a complex web of activities involving the production, processing, transport and consumption. Issues concerning the food system include the governance and economics of food production, its sustainability, the degree to which we waste food, how food production affects the natural environment and the impact of food on individual and population health.
Following the aftermath of many youths dying from the COVID-19, it was discovered many of them had underlying conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer. It is now common knowledge that with underlying conditions, chances of beating the disease are minimal. It is of no wonder that youths were affected most by the virus this time around, because of their preference for junk food. It would be of great significance if youths engaged more in agriculture for more production of essential foods in amounts that can ably sustain the masses.
Rumors of the third wave are spreading fast and experts are cognizant of the fact that covid-19 is going to be with us for the long haul and adaptability is very key. One of the ways we can live with it is by preparing our bodies for battle. Wearing the armour of healthy eating i.e making healthy food choices for consumption.
The high demand for healthy foods and the high rates of unemployment among the youth has brought up the question of affordability of the vital foods whose prices have been hiked. What this means is that only the well-off can afford nutritious foods. We need to get to a place where healthy food choices are made affordable to all and prioritized while deciding on what to consume as the youth.
Food systems challenges, especially nutrition-related chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer are major contributors to the global burden of disease.
Celebrate the International Youth Day with us by joining conversations around the world under the hashtag #IYD2021 on Twitter, Webinars, TV and Radio conversations as we explore the role that youths can play to achieve more equitable and sustainable food systems, and highlight the fact that the success of such a global effort will not be achieved without the meaningful participation of young people.
I conclude by saying that its only when you are sick that you realise you should have eaten healthy! This is me speaking through experience as a covid survivor. ‘’Prevention is better than cure’’ has never been more accurate than in this era of COVID-19.
The writer is a program officer in the Campaigns, Partnerships and Networks programme.