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nnc logo themeIn the recent call of Senator Grace Poe in her privilege speech at the Senate calling for an increase in the 2015 budget for children’s feeding program, the National Nutrition Council supports actions to address hunger and malnutrition especially among children.

While there has been some improvement in the nutrition situation of children in the country, the problem persists. Based on the 2013 national nutrition survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, 19.9% of children below 5 years old are underweight for their age; 7.9% are wasted or thin for their age and 30.3% are stunted or short for their age. Among children 5-10 years old, malnutrition continues with 29.1% are underweight, 29.9% are stunted and 8.6% are wasted.

 

The NNC recommends that priority should be given to nutrition and related interventions in the first 1,000 days or the first nine months in the womb until the child’s second birthday. These include interventions for feeding the nutritionally at-risk pregnant women, ensuring that infants are breastfed exclusively in the first 6 months and starting at 6 months, are given nutritious and appropriate complementary food while continuing breastfeeding. Priority should also be given to treating children who are wasted or have severe acute malnutrition as they have higher risk of dying. 

While feeding programs for school children help alleviate hunger and improve school performance, priority should be given to children in the first 1,000 days of life as this period is the most critical in the child’s growth, ability to learn, and risk to non-communicable diseases in later life.

In addition to the focus in the first 1,000 days of life, there should also be nutrition-sensitive interventions to ensuring access to more nutritious foods by supporting small farms, improving access to clean water and sanitation, education and employment and health care.

The NNC calls also on local government units to implement priority nutrition action in the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition. NNC recently conferred awards to outstanding local government units that have proven that if nutrition is prioritized, malnutrition can be drastically reduced.