A nutritionist, Prof. Ignatius Onimawo, has said that Cibophobia could lead to severe mental and health problems, if not well managed.
Onimawo, President, Nigeria Nutrition Society of Nigeria, said this in an interview with newsmen in Lagos recently.
The Tide reports that the Medical Online dictionary defined Cibophobia as “an abnormal aversion to food or to eating”.
According to Onimawo, untreated cibophobia could lead to obsessive behaviours in an individual.
“The implications are always reflected in micro nutrient deficiency which is dangerous to the health of the individual.
“Eventually, because you have restricted your diet to a particular food, you may be starving yourself and this could result in weakness and dizziness,” he said.
The expert said that many signs of cibophobia were difficult to recognise.
“It is not easy to detect the symptoms, particularly in a depressed economy like ours, where people do not even have enough food to eat.
“So, seeing people looking emaciated cannot easily be linked to cibophobia,” he said.
Onimawo advised that cibophobia, when properly diagnosed in an individual, would require the help of professionals to avoid severe complications.
According to him, the treatment should involve both psychologists and nutritionists.
“There is what is called cognitive behavioural therapy and talk therapy.
“The person is made to change his thinking about food from negative to positive, and get his fears under control. Again you can use nutrition counselling,” he said.
“Cibopobia is a serious condition that causes a person to fear food unnecessarily.
“A person may starve himself because of this. It can result from the negative thinking of a person about certain foods.
“When a person is informed of the risks of different food-borne illnesses over a period of time, and has developed fear of such foods, this happens.”
He said that some people could go for hours without eating, if they feel the food was not properly done, adding, “also if it is not fresh or if they felt it wasn’t prepared in hygienic conditions.
“Avoidance of perishable foods and obsession with expiration dates of food are also signs of cibophobia— just looking for excuses not to eat.
“Cibophobia can also be linked to eating disorders,” Onimawo said.