The Philippines may not achieve its goal of eradicating malnutrition by 2015 since the prevalence of the scourge among young children has not greatly decreased since 2004.
Furthermore, the initial results of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology’s (FNRI-DOST) 8th National Nutrition Survey: 2013-2014 that it presented at the Traders Hotel Manila in Pasay City showed that the Philippines now faces a double nutrition problem—underweight and overweight.
“These results will provide the Anthropometry of children and adult with prevalances of under and over nutrition, including the prevalence of underweight children below five years old, which is part of the Millenium Development Goal (MDG) number one,” the FNRI-DOST explained.
Using the weight of children from one to five years old as index, the institute said, the number of underweight children slipped to 19.9 percent from 20.2 percent in 2011.
The survey tracked a relatively unchanged status for the past 10 years making it unlikely that the Philippines will achieve the MDG goal to reduce malnutrition by up to 50 percent from the baseline of 27.3 percent in 1989.
In 2003 to 2008, we had a 20.7, 20.0, and 20.6 percent respectively, the institute reported.
Moreover, the number of thin children increased to 7.9 percent from 7.3 percent in 2011, indicating a consistent upward trend of Filipino children not getting enough and proper intake of food.
From 5.8 percent in 2005 it started climbing up to 6.9 percent in 2008. “We were not able to decrease the number since then instead; it increases even more year by year,” the FNRI-DOST said.
On the brighter side, we were able to lower the development of malnutrition down to 30.3 percent, a three-percent drop from 33.6 percent in 2011; the first substantial drop in malnutrition development in the country.
As expected, the best performers were the urban areas and the richest quintiles including the National Capital Region where only 12.9 percent of the children were malnourished.
According to the institute, this was obviously because their inhabitants have more resources to provide proper nutrients for their children.
Conversely, the rural regions with the highest number of malnourished children were MIMAROPA (27.5 percent), Western Visayas (25.9 percent) and Bicol (24.6 percent).
The survey further found that the underweight percentage is even higher in the five to 10 year old age group at 29.1 percent. But, according to the FNRI-DOST, this disappointing result was already an improvement from the 32 percent polled in 2011.
Similar to trends in the younger age groups, the poorest in this age group had the highest percentage of underweight children at 42.5 percent.
“The five to 10 years are much-neglected age groups, the next studies should focus on them,” Giorgia Paiella, a nutrition specialist from the World Health Organization said.
Meanwhile, the number of overweight or obese children is highest among those in the richest quintile at a significant 10.7 percent.
Furthermore, the survey showed that about one in four children aged five to 10 are obese.