Editorial: Stunted growth, underweight children

The recent result of the study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) on the health of children below five years, is alarming.

In the 2015 Updating of the Nutritional Status of Filipinos FNRI, one in every three Filipino children below 5 years old is affected by stunted growth or a lack of height for their age, and one in three children was underweight for his or her age. This figure is considered a “medium to high level” public concern.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and the Zamboanga Peninsula were among top regions with the highest number of stunted children. The regions with the highest number of underweight children aged 5 to 10 years old were MIMAROPA (Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan), Western Visayas, and Bicol Region.

According to The Future of Children published by the World Health Organization, stunting is an indication of malnutrition or nutrition related disorders. Contributing factors include poor maternal health and nutrition before, during and after pregnancy, as well as inadequate infant feeding practices especially during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life and infection.

Proper nutrition should be observed all throughout a child’s growth to ensure proper development. The success of the campaign on breastfeeding should be enhanced to include nutrients such as Vitamin D for normal calcium absorption; Calcium for healthy bones and teeth; Protein for muscle growth and development; and, Iron for efficient production of red blood cells.

Stunting is irreversible. According to WHO, children over the age of two who are stunted are unlikely to be able to regain their lost growth potential. In addition, children who experience stunting have an increased risk for cognitive and learning delays. Further, the effects of malnutrition on a population have a larger implications, ‘it perpetuates poverty and slows economic growth.”

Posted in Opinion