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

“Undernutrition remains to be a public health problem among 0-5 years old children,” Dr. Mario Capanzana, Ph.D., director, FNRI-DOST said in presenting an “Assessment of FNRI’s National Nutrition Survey with Focus on Malnutrition Rates” held at the Makati Shangri-La, Makati.

Nutrition during the child’s growing years has a major influence on his health and stature, Corazon M. Cerdeña, Chief of the Nutritional Assessment and Monitoring Division of the FNRI-DOST, also said.

She stressed that poor maternal nutrition may limit the growth, ability to learn, and intelligence potential of a child.

Studies reveal that children whose diets lack essential nutrients show inadequate physical growth that may hamper potential for future achievements. Poor nutrition limits the ability of the 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 especially those in the 0-5 years bracket and among 6-10 year old children.

According to the result of the survey, there was a significant increase in the proportion of 0-5 year 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.

On the other hand, Capanzana said that based on the 2011 National Nutrition Survey, “2 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.

He also reported an increasing trend of overweight or obesity among children as shown by a trend from 2005, 2008, 2011.

He said that the period from 6 months to below 3 years old is the stage when rapid growth and development takes place; the vulnerable age to malnutrition and infection, irreversible long term physical and mental damage.

Capanzana said there is a need to introduce nutritious foods such as vegetables at an early age for the child’s health and for him to get accustomed to and get used to complementary foods until he/she gets older.

Capanzana said that the Department of Health along with the international community have been advocating for the exclusive breastfeeding of mothers as a policy on the 0-6 months babies. He added that the DSWD has supported and provided lots of fund for supplementary feeding on 3-6 years of old, while the DepdEd subscribed to feeding program for 6- 12 years children, with no champions for the nutrition of 6-36 months children.#