163rd Inaugural Wegwu Advocates Centre To Monitor Nutrition, Lifestyle, Disease Control

163rd Inaugural Wegwu Advocates Centre To Monitor Nutrition, Lifestyle, Disease Control

Issues bordering on food safety, security and hazardous effects of food on human health formed the main thrust of the 163rd Inaugural Lecture delivered by Professor Matthew Wegwu of the Department of Biochemistry in the Faculty of Science. The well-attended Lecture, which held at the Ebitimi Banigo Auditorium on Thursday, September 26, 2019, was presided over by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Professor Regina Ogali.

Delivering the Lecture appropriately entitled: The Power of Food, Professor Wegwu described food as “a substance obtained from plant or animal that is taken into the body to yield energy and nutrients for growth, maintenance of life and repair of tissues.” He further described nutrients as “chemical substances that are present in food that the body can use to provide energy, structural materials and regulating agents that support growth, repair tissues and maintain life.”

To further the promotion of healthy lifestyle in the University and beyond, Professor Wegwu proposed the establishment of a Centre for Environmental Nutrition, Healthy Lifestyle and Disease Control. He explained that when established, research in the proposed Centre shall pioneer new knowledge; develop innovative, interdisciplinary, translational and interventional research with the objective of reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with unhealthy diet and lifestyle. The Centre, according to him, will also focus on identifying important dietary components and lifestyle that would lead to the prevention of chronic disease among the population.

Citing a research he carried out with a colleague in 2007, Professor Wegwu who is Occupant of the Bene Willie Abbey Professorial Chair of Nutrition and Environmental Biochemistry, said: “We have successfully demonstrated in our laboratory research that nutrients in foods may reduce the risks associated with some non-communicable diseases that currently ravage the populace.” He emphasised that “most of the diseases and untimely deaths that occur in our communities are traceable to our lifestyle, especially riotous eating habits.”

“Available evidence strongly suggests that most deaths in the Nigerian space, especially in recent times, are traceable to cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. We are deeply convinced that these deaths are preventable and avoidable conditions that could be achieved through the adoption of healthy lifestyle, including the cultivation of sustainable diets and consumption of healthy foods,” he observed. “While it may appear obvious that something must kill a man, it is also true that our aging and dying processes may be retarded by consuming foods based on their nutritional value and contributions to a positive lifestyle,” the Inaugural Lecturer pointed out.

Professor Wegwu, who is Chairman of the Sports Complex Management Committee and pioneer Chairman of the Academic Board of the University of Port Harcourt Sports Institute, attributed the success of Team UniPort in the sporting arena to a special dietary regimen he co-developed with a colleague, Professor Ken Anugweje. He further disclosed that Professor Anugweje who is the Director of Sports Institute “has compounded a diet composed of higher and medium glycemic index foods for quick recovery of athletes after strenuous training sessions.”

According to him, the product is awaiting patenting after which it would be made available in commercial quantities for the use of athletes worldwide, thus placing the University’s name on the map. He added that the ultimate aim of a research he is currently undertaking with Professor Anugweje, who is an accomplished Biochemist and expert in Sports Medicine, was to produce a branded UniPort Sport Drink that would be acceptable in the international sporting market.

On the environmental degradation of the Niger Delta, Professor Wegwu, who is also a practising Environmental Biochemist, picked holes in the raging agitation for Resource Control by the people of the Niger Delta. “I would rather recommend that the leadership and the peoples of the region  should demand Resource Sustenance and Conservation by adopting civilised, non-violent approaches as this, in my opinion, remains the most acceptable and swerving strategy to obviate the impending extinction of our resources and food production on arable lands.”

Speaking after the Lecture, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) Professor Ogali, who represented the Vice Chancellor, Professor Ndowa Lale at the occasion, commended the Inaugural Lecturer for what she described as an enlightening and well-delivered Lecture. “Professor Wegwu has done wonderfully well by advising us on how best to eat to get the best from food. He advised that we should eat more of foods that contain fibres and consume more of fruits.  He also charged us to be mindful of what we do to our environment and I believe he did well. On behalf of the Vice Chancellor, I wish to congratulate Professor Wegwu on his very enlightening lecture,” she said.

Professor Ogali announced that the 164th Inaugural Lecture entitled: “Massification of Education in Nigeria: Reducing the Distance through Open and Distance Learning”, will be delivered by Professor Baribor Vikoo of the Department of Curriculum Studies and Education Technology in the Faculty of Education on Thursday, October 17, 2019.

By | upfaculty Nov 04, 2019 | Academic . Research|