How to prevent malnutrition in the Philippines

Know how to prevent malnutirtion in the Philippines on the 47th Nutrition Month Celebration -fiber internet-min
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Photo by the National Nutrition Council

The commemoration of Nutrition Month this July is a timely opportunity for us to redirect our focus on how to prevent malnutrition and hunger. The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected health conditions. There’s an increase in the plight of cases of an already malnourished child and that on risk of malnutrition all over the country. With the possible threat of the more transmissible Delta variant, creating greater awareness on the importance of nutrition among Filipinos is a must. And this is through fast internet connection at home or at our offices.

Wherever you are in the Philippines, you can join online initiatives to fight the risk of malnutrition. With the power of unlimited internet, you can be someone who immensely contribute to the goal of making more people be informed about the causes of malnutrition and how we can finally overcome it.

What is Nutrition Month?

The observance of Nutrition Month is a yearly campaign that seeks to promote the significance of nourishment. Held every July, the celebration’s mandate is under Presidential Decree 491, or the Nutrition Act of the Philippines. Pursuant to this law, the National Nutrition Council (NNC) is the lead agency for the nationwide campaign.

The annual campaign encourages the participation of various stakeholders to engage in different projects and activities to sustain good nutrition in their respective communities. With majority of these programs shifting into the virtual realm, netizens need to have a reliable fiber internet in order to take part in these endeavors.

July 2021, time of the Nutrition Month celebration

This year’s celebration of the Nutrition Month anchors on the theme “Malnutrisyon patuloy na labanan, First 1000 days tutukan!” As the nation is still grappling with the impact of the pandemic, this theme underscores efforts on the First 1000 Days of life as a strategy and intervention to avert obesity and stunting. This can be through healthy weight loss and proper diet.

An important goal of the Nutrition Month campaign is to provide opportunities for people to take part in elevating public awareness and disseminate information regarding relevant health problems in the country. According to the NNC, some of the activities for this year’s celebration include webinars and online fora targeting the general population. These will be undertaken for the general public to recognize the importance of the first 1000 days in preventing the risk of malnutrition.

Certainly, our celebration of the Nutrition Month will be meaningful and purposeful if we can join in any of these activities even in the comforts of our homes. This will be easy with an affordable home internet plan.

The importance of good nutrition

According to the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI), it’s important to keep ourselves free from health conditions. This is especially when COVID cases are still rising. One vital way is have a proper diet and eating habits. Eat food that are high in essential nutrients. Through this, you can boost your immune system which is important to be free of health concerns.

People should consciously know that there is no single food containing all the nutrients that we need. Thus, the recommendation is to eat a variety of food to ensure that daily nutritional needs are met. Vegetables and fruits are the primary sources of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber; while milk is a good source of calcium.

What is malnutrition?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defined ‘malnutrition’ as deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. This term covers two broad groups of health conditions. The first one is ‘undernutrition.’ This includes the following:

  1. stunting or low height for age;
  2. wasting or low weight for height;
  3. underweight or low weight for age; and
  4. micronutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies or the lack of important vitamins and minerals.

The other is overweight, obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases, which part of the resolve is really weight loss. These include heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.

Consequences of malnutrition

Malnutrition affects people in every country, according to WHO. There are a lot of people who cannot maintain normal body mass index (BMI). Around 1.9 billion adults worldwide are overweight, while 462 million are underweight. An estimated 41 million children under the age of five years are overweight or obese, while some 159 million are stunted and 50 million are wasted.

Meanwhile, UNICEF Philippines cited a report on The State of the World’s Children: Children, Food and Nutrition that showed one in three Filipino children under five years old are stunted. This means they are too short for their age, while some seven percent of children are too thin for their height.

Additionally, 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.

Malnutrition and the COVID 19 pandemic

In an article on Manila Bulletin, former senator Joey Lina cited lawyer Alberto Muyot, CEO of Save the Children Philippines organization, who said that the situation of Filipino kids and their families had gone worse because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The young ones, especially those living in the slums, are vulnerable to malnutrition.

In fact, these young individuals who died from COVID-19 may have been suffering from acute malnutrition or wasting caused by hunger with complications such as pneumonia and dehydration due to diarrhea. This is because they lack the nutrients their body needs. And they have no means of getting food that have these nutrients either.

Also, these individuals have shelters in overcrowded spaces, with limited access to water, no clean toilets and hygiene facilities. Their circumstances have brought challenge to complying with the minimum public health standards and protocols. Frequent handwashing and social distancing were also difficult to follow.

Ways to fight malnutrition

Malnourishment remains a problem in the Philippines. The people, particularly the children, should be protected from malnutrition and its possible impact to their well-being. Various government agencies and civil society organizations have implemented measures and interventions to combat this health problem.

Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos

In order to promote good health through proper nutrition, the government made moves. The DOST-FNRI has issued the Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos (NGF) in its website. These are simple statements that give advice on the consumption of food. They also give dietary guidelines based on the eating pattern, lifestyle, and health status of Filipinos.

The NGF contains all the nutrition messages to healthy living for all age groups. These include infants to adults, pregnant and lactating women, and the elderly. Here are the 10 nutritional and health messages that can help us remain healthy and be able to fight malnutrition:

  1. Eat a variety of food every day to get the nutrients your body needs.
  2. Breastfeed infants exclusively from birth up to six months. Then, give appropriate complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding for two years and beyond for optimum growth and development.
  3. Eat more vegetables and fruits to get the essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber for regulation of body processes.
  4. Consume fish, lean meat, poultry, egg, dried beans or nuts daily for growth and repair of body tissues.
  5. Intake milk, milk products, and other calcium-rich food. Examples are small fish and shellfish, every day for healthy bones and teeth.
  6. Consume safe foods and water to prevent diarrhea and other food-and water-borne diseases.
  7. Use iodized salt to prevent iodine deficiency disorders.
  8. Limit intake of salty, fried, fatty, and sugar-rich foods to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
  9. Attain normal body weight through proper diet and moderate physical activity to maintain good health and help prevent obesity.
  10. Be physically active. Make healthy food choices. Manage stress. Avoid alcoholic beverage, and do not smoke to help prevent lifestyle-related non-communicable disease.

‘Pinggang Pinoy’ Food Guide

Pinggang Pinoy - How to Prevent Malnutrition in the Philippines - fiber internet-min
Photo by DOST via Business Mirror

Aside from the nutritional guidelines, the DOST-FNRI also came up with a visual tool. Such is to guide Filipinos in consuming the right amount of food for every meal. Dubbed as ‘Pinggang Pinoy’ in their website, this easy-to-understand food guide uses a familiar food plate model to convey the right food groups and proportions for your meals.

It is not okay for a family to get used to consuming much calories. The same is true for lack of other essential content of the food groups. To gain the right energy levels,

This seeks to help every person to meet the body’s energy and nutrient needs, particularly the adults. Aside from consuming the right substances and gaining muscle strength through proper calorie intake, Pinggang Pinoy serves as the data that guides every family member on how to avoid poor nutrition.

Pinggang Pinoy also serves as visual guide to help Filipinos adopt healthy eating habits at meal times. By delivering effective dietary and healthy lifestyle messages, it gets through Pinoys. Moreover, this guide provides answers to questions such as how much you should eat in one meal in order to be healthy. Serving as a quick food guide, you can easily determine what to eat and how much to eat.  

Recommended Proportions by Food Group

By using the Pinggang Pinoy model, an individual is given the recommended proportion from the following food group on per meal basis – Go, Grow and Glow. By just looking at the plate, one will know right away that half of the plate represents Glow foods consisting of fruits and vegetables. One sixth of the plate shows the proportion for Grow foods such as meats, eggs, poultry, fish, beans, and legumes. One third of the plate is Go foods like rice, corn, bread, oatmeal, bread, and root crops.

Since the individual’s energy and nutrient needs vary based on age and sex, and level of physical activity, Pinggang Pinoy food guides for the different population and physiologic groups, including children, adolescents, elderly, pregnant mother, and lactating women, were also developed.

Reviving the ‘Nutribun’ It Is

With the goal of combating child malnutrition in the Philippines, the DOST-FNRI also revived the ‘nutribun’. This bread was originally designed as a convenient ‘ready-to-eat complete meal’ for public elementary school feeding programs to address malnutrition among school children. However, in order to add other essential nutrients, the agency started a reformulation and turned it into the ‘enhanced nutribun’ (e-nutribun).

As a backgrounder, the agency started reformulating the nutribun from the original formulation of squash bread, which the institute developed way back in 2003. One fun fact we can be proud of is that this bun is an original reformulation by Filipinos for Filipino consumers and not copied from any foreign work.

More Micronutrients for the Enhanced Nutribun

With a better formulation, the ‘enhanced nutribun’ contains more micronutrients like iron and the retinoid vitamin. The texture is softer and weighs 160-165 grams per piece, which makes it easier to hold and bite. Each serving has 504 calories, 17.8 grams of protein, 6.08 milligrams of iron, and 244 micrograms of vitamin A.

There is a guarantee that the enhanced nutribun is rich in vitamin A, as it is made from squash. One serving of enhanced nutribun already provides 60 percent of the requirements for vitamin A. The enhanced version ensures to provide the essential micronutrients, energy, and protein requirements that the Filipino children will need.

Enhanced Nutribun is Recommended to the Pregnant Women Sector, Too

According to the DOST-FNRI, the nutribun is also recommended for other healthy Filipinos, and other population groups, especially senior citizens and pregnant and lactating women. As part of the ‘TutokKainan supplementation program, which is a COVID-19 response, the nutribun is a component of the several food commodities distributed to the nutritionally-at-risk pregnant women.

Maximize Social Media to Promote Organizations  

Prior to the pandemic, there are already several organizations and civil society groups that have been spearheading initiatives to fight malnutrition particularly in far-flung areas. They have implemented food banks, feeding programs, conducted nutrition education, and assisted the establishment of school vegetable gardens. However, even with some pandemic restrictions, some organizations such as Reach Out Feed Philippines Inc., Children’s Hour Philippines Foundation, Inc., and Children’s Mission Philippines have continued their initiatives in helping communities fight malnutrition and hunger. These organizations have websites and social media pages. As netizens who would want to contribute to raising greater awareness on this problem, helping them boost their posts and updates would mean a lot.

Helping to disseminate these initiatives through blog posts, images, videos, and infographics can do so much to inform other people of these wonderful deeds. Consequently, these can encourage more people to help and find potential donors.

Choose the Best Fiber Internet Service Provider to Share Stories on Nutrition             

While the pandemic is not yet over and the country has yet to achieve herd immunity amidst the inoculation roll-out, the best means to take part in these campaigns against malnutrition are online platforms. You can actively involve in raising awareness on the significance of good nutrition through your social media accounts, and of course, through the help of fiber internet.

Streamtech Fiber Internet - Maximize the web to help prevent malnutrition in the Philippines-min
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