The National Nutrition Council (NNC) celebrated Nutrition Month last year with the theme “Pagkain ng gulay ay ugaliin, araw-araw itong ihain.” The primary reason why the celebration was centered on more consumption of vegetables was the result of a survey conducted by the DOST Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) in 2008 that showed that the average Filipino ate less vegetables and that the vegetable consumption within the past 30 years, decreased from 145 grams of vegetable per day in 1978 to 110 grams in 2008, or a decline of 35 grams of vegetable consumption.
In last year’s celebration, the NNC aimed to increase vegetable consumption as part of a healthy diet to address micronutrient deficiencies and non-communicable diseases; promote vegetable gardening as a source of additional food and income; and increase demand for vegetables to help local vegetable farmers.
Several reasons for the decline in vegetable consumption were also cited in an earlier study conducted by the FNRI way back in 2005. These included the price of the vegetables, contamination from pesticides and the lack of knowledge of the people on the health benefits that they derived from eating vegetables.
What was glaring in the survey is that people living in the Cordillera Autonomous Region are the highest consumers of vegetables with 169 grams, compared with the 92 grams consumption of those living in the Calabarzon and ARMM, which was found out to be the lowest consumers of vegetables.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended an average of 400 grams of vegetable and fruit intake each day. This serving may help prevent non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, as well as prevent and alleviate several micronutrient deficiencies, WHO said. (With report by Thelma E. Diego, DOST IX)