ANILA, Philippines?As the administration of President Benigno Aquino III settles down and braces for work for the next six years, a review of the latest National Nutrition Survey (NNS) might be imperative to guide it in one of its proclaimed crusades?to reduce poverty.
Through Executive Order No. 128, signed on Jan. 30, 1987 during the time of the President?s mother, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is mandated to undertake research to define the nutritional status of the population particularly the malnutrition problem and its causes and effects, and to identify alternative solutions to them.
Undertaken every five years, the survey and its results serve as inputs to national plans and programs. The NNS is also useful in providing benchmarks to gauge the country?s progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals, including the eradication of hunger, reduction of child mortality and improvement of maternal health.
One of the issues the 2008 NNS looked into is children?s nutrition. The research found that the number of Filipino children who were underweight and underheight or stunted increased from 2005 to 2008.
The prevalence of underweight children aged 0-5 years increased from 24.6 percent to 26.2 percent, about 3.35 million children.
The underheight rate increased from 26.3 percent to 27.9 percent, representing 3.57 million children.
There was also a significant increase in the prevalence of underweight children aged 6-10 years from 22.8 percent in 2005 to 25.6 percent in 2008, equivalent to 2.6 million. The number of underheight children in this age group likewise increased from 32 percent to 33.1 percent.
A very high level of acute malnutrition among preschoolers (aged 0-5) was noted in six regions, namely Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula and Soccsksargen where the underweight-for-age prevalence was at least 30 percent.
A high prevalence of underheight-for-age or stunted preschoolers was mostly observed in Mimaropa, Bicol, and all the regions in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Based on their weight relative to their height, the nutritional status of preschoolers was considered poor in most regions except for Central Visayas and Davao regions (based on the classification of worldwide prevalence range among children under 5 years of age).
Chronic malnutrition affected a very high percentage of preschoolers in the provinces of Masbate, Biliran, Northern Samar, Western Samar, Zamboanga Sibugay, Sarangani, Abra and Mountain Province.
Except for Soccsksargen, the same regions with high malnutrition among preschoolers were most at risk of acute malnutrition among schoolchildren as the prevalence of underweight was at least 30 percent. Meanwhile, the regions with very high prevalence of stunted schoolchildren were Mimaropa, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao and Soccsksargen.
Long standing or chronic malnutrition affected a very high percentage of schoolchildren in 25 provinces, including Abra, Aurora, Mindoro Occidental, Mindoro Oriental, Marinduque, Catanduanes, Masbate, Negros Occidental, Northern Samar, Western Samar, Leyte, Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur and Basilan.
These facts should help the new administration, particularly the agencies involved in health and nutrition, in evaluating the effectiveness of the programs put in place by the previous administration.
Looking at the incidence of iron-deficiency anemia, the study found that from 1998 to 2008 there was a significant decrease in anemia prevalence among different age groups except for the infants aged 6 months to one year, which had the highest prevalence at 55.7 percent followed by the pregnant women at 42.5...
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