NUTRITION NEWS: Undernutrition remains a public health problem among 0-5 years old children

    In his presentation of  “An Assessment of FNRI’s National Nutrition Survey with Focus on Malnutrition Rates” held at the Makati Shangri-La, Makati, Dr. Marion Capanzana, director, FNRI-DOST, stressed that undernutrition still remains a public health problem among 0-5 years old children.

In another meeting, Corazon M. Cerdeña, Chief of the Nutritional Assessment and Monitoring Division of the FNRI-DOST, pointed out that nutrition has a major influence on the child’s  health and stature during his growing years.

Studies show that poor nutrition limits the child’s physical growth, his ability to learn and hampers his potential to become a future achiever. Moreover, poor nutrition limits the ability of the child’s body to resist infection and adds to the risk of developing chronic illnesses later in  life.

Despite an intensified campaign to combat malnutrition among Filipino children over the years, the results of the 7th National Nutrition Survey conducted in 2008 by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) showed that there was an increase in the prevalence of undernutrition among Filipino children in the 0-5 years and 6-10 brackets.

There was a significant increase in the proportion of  0-5 years old children who were underweight from 24.6 percent in 2005 to 26.2 percent in 2008.

Among 6-10 year old children, underweight prevalence rose significantly from 22.8 percent in 2005 to 25.6 percent in 2008.

Based on the 2011 National Nutrition Survey, “two in every 10 Filipino children aged 0-5 years are underweight-for-age; 3 in every 10 Filipino children aged 0-5 years are under-height-for-age or stunted.

Capanzana said that the period from 6 months to below 3 years old is the stage when rapid growth and development takes place and that this is the child’s vulnerable age to malnutrition and infection which may result to irreversible long term physical and mental damage.

There is a need then to introduce to the child nutritious foods such as vegetables at an early age and for him to get accustomed to complementary foods until he/she gets older.

Moreover, the Department of Health has been advocating for the exclusive breastfeeding of mothers as a policy on 0-6 months babies with the DSWD supporting and funding supplementary feeding programs on 3-6 years old children, and the DepdEd subscribing feeding programs for 6-12 years old children.#