Pinoy kids growing up unhealthy — Unicef

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Pinoy kids growing up unhealthy — Unicef

MANILA, Philippines — Many children and adolescents in the Philippines are not growing up healthy due to poor diet, inadequate nutrition and a failing food system, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned in a global report.

The State of the World’s Children: Children, Food and Nutrition revealed that one in three Filipino children under five years old is stunted, which means too short for one’s age, while roughly 7 percent of children are too thin for their height. 

The report said a tenth of Filipino adolescents are now overweight. Increased vulnerability to disease due to poor health-seeking behavior, incomplete immunization, poor hygiene and care practices, and inadequate diet – both in quantity and quality – causes undernutrition in early childhood. ?

“The undernutrition facts in the Philippines are disturbing – one in three 12-23-month-old children suffer from anaemia while one in three children are irreversibly stunted by the age of 2. On the other hand, 1 in 10 adolescents are obese from wrong eating habits,” said Oyun Dendevnorov of UNICEF Philippines.

“The triple burden of undernutrition, hidden hunger and overweight poses serious threats to child health, therefore, UNICEF is supporting the Philippine government in implementing the Philippine Plan of Action on Nutrition (PPAN), Dendevnorov said.

?UNICEF emphasized that under the leadership of the government, working together with the private sector, civil society and all stakeholders, the causes of unhealthy eating in all its forms must be addressed.?

“The National Nutrition Council (NNC) is exhausting all efforts to address malnutrition especially among children through the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) 2017-2022, which serves as the country’s framework for nutrition improvement.” said Azucena Dayanghirang, executive director of the National Nutrition Council, 

One of the strategic thrusts of the PPAN 2017-2022, is the focus on the first 1,000 days of life, which refers to the period of pregnancy up to the first two years of the child, she said.

This is a window of golden opportunity wherein key health, nutrition, early education and related services should be delivered to ensure optimum physical and mental development of a child. 

Poor nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life can have irreversible effects on the physical and mental development of a child that eventually affects a child’s performance in school as well as productivity and ability to earn as an adult, consequently affecting the quality of life of a person.  

?Despite the critical importance of the 1,000 days of life from conception up to two years, infants are not eating well.

As a result, they are surviving but not thriving. Only a third of babies are exclusively breastfed during the first six months. Around 44 percent of children aged 6-23 months are not fed fruit and vegetables, and 59 percent are not fed eggs, dairy products, fish or meat.

They are not getting their required nutritional intake by consuming from at least five of the seven food groups.??

The report also found Filipino adolescents having unhealthy eating habits, food that do not meet their nutritional needs.

Adolescent obesity among Filipinos has almost tripled in the last 15 years (Philippine Expanded National Nutrition Survey, 2018) as processed foods high in salt, fats and sugar are becoming more accessible and affordable.?

The triple burden of malnutrition – undernutrition, hidden hunger or the lack of essential nutrients, and overweight – threatens the survival, growth and development of children, young people, economies and nations, the report warned.