The Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) data showed that pregnant mothers in several regions that include Ilocos, Bicol, Western Visayas and ARMM are considered “nutritionally at risk.”
Another study conducted by the FNRI showed that one out of four pregnant mothers in the country are nutritionally at risk which is problematic as it also affects the child in the mother’s womb. As a result, two out of 10 Filipino children grow up to be underweight for their age.
One factor that contributed to the growing number of children that are underweight is inadequate dietary intake, says the FNRI.
Dietary fiber intake provides many health benefits. Researches show that individuals with high intakes of dietary fiber are significantly at lower risk for developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases.
Increasing fiber intake also lowers blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels. Increased fiber intake decreases a number of gastrointestinal disorders including gastroesophageal reflux disease, duodenal ulcer, constipation, and hemorrhoids.
But, average fiber intakes for children and adults in our country are less than half of the recommended levels. This is due to the fact that many poor families can not afford to buy enough rice to eat for three meals a day. Rice is the major staple in the country and it is a rich source of dietary fiber.
The recommended dietary fiber intakes for children and adults are 14 g/1000 kcal.
The Department of Health has recommended exclusive breastfeeding for infants for the first six months in a move to address the malnutrition problem in the country.
Breast milk is best for the baby and for the mother’s health. Breast milk contains all the vitamins and nutrients the baby needs in the first six months of life, and is packed with disease-fighting substances that protect him from illness.
Studies have shown that stomach viruses, lower respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and meningitis occur less often in breastfed babies and are less severe when they do happen.
The DOH also recommended that babies are fed with complementary food or solid food when they reach their sixth month.
One of the objectives of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals is to decrease in half the number of underweight children in developing countries by 2015. In the Philippines, the number of underweight children went from 27.3 percent in 1989 to 20.2 percent in 2011.
But health authorities say change is not happening fast enough in time for 2015.#