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PH celebrates Nutrition Month

MANILA (PIA) -- July is National Nutrition Month in the Philippines. It is a time to focus on eating healthy and building resilience against malnutrition. The theme for this year's celebration, “Healthy Diet Gawing (Make It) Affordable For All,” centers on making healthy diets more accessible in order to help improve the health and well-being of people all over the Philippines.

Malnutrition, according to the National Nutrition Council (NNC), is a serious problem in the Philippines. The NNC said about one in three Filipino children under the age of five is stunted, meaning they are too short for their age. Stunting can lead to a number of health problems, including impaired cognitive development and increased risk of chronic diseases later in life.

Photo courtesy: PIA-NCR Facebook Page

Ms. Milagros Elisa Federizo, Metro Manila Nutrition Program Coordinator at NNC, said around 35 percent or four out of 10 Filipino families in the country are unable to eat healthy and nutritious food.

There are a number of reasons why malnutrition is so common in the Philippines. One reason is poverty. Many families cannot afford to provide their children with a healthy diet. Another reason is lack of access to clean water and sanitation. These factors can make it difficult for people to get the nutrients they need.

Federizo added that while some 75.2 million Filipinos do not partake in a healthy diet, enjoying healthy foods need not be heavy on the budget, as there are ways to have proper nutrition at a minimal cost. These include growing vegetables in containers, engaging in breastfeeding for babies up to 2 years old, including greens in one’s plate, and adding an egg on your diet.

National Nutrition Month is also a time to raise awareness about malnutrition and to promote healthy eating habits. There are a number of ways institutions celebrate the annual event. 

The poverty alleviation program of newly appointed Presidential Adviser Larry Gadon is set to  launch its Batang Busog Malusog (BBM) in July, as he eyed tapping the private sector for help.

“Iyong mga malalaking mga kumpanya o negosyante, hihikayatin ko sila. Magkakaroon ako ng link sa kanila na kanilang i-adopt itong programa na ito bilang corporate social responsibility at sila ay mag-ampon o mag-adopt ng isang public school sa kanilang nasasakupang areas (I will ask businesses to adopt this program as their corporate social responsibility program or adopt a public school near their areas),” Gadon said.

He said poverty alleviation that is fair and just is among the primary programs of the Marcos administration.

The BBM program, he explained, will prioritize school children impeded by learning abilities due to malnutrition, according to studies.

Gadon said he plans to leverage his long experience in corporate law practice to convince the private sector to help in such programs.

In March, the Department of Health (DOH) cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) that the stunting rate among children aged 0 to 23 months had plateaued over the last 10 years at 21.6 percent.

While data from the PSA showed 12.3 percent of children aged 0 to 23 months are underweight.

Children aged 0 to 4 years old accounted for over 11 million as of the 2020 census, or a little over 10 percent of the Philippines’ estimated population of 113 million.

Contributed photo

In Caraga Region, various stakeholders kicked off the 49th National Nutrition Month with a motorcade in Butuan City, which was followed by an opening program at the Organic Agricultural Training Center (OATC) in Caraga State University (CSU). Media practitioners were also engaged in a press conference with the officials and members of the Regional Nutrition Cluster (RNC).

Dr. Cesar Cassion, regional director of the Department of Health (DOH) Caraga, emphasized that this year's National Nutrition Month is a call for everyone to make nutritious food accessible and affordable for all.

Dr. Niño Archie Labordo, regional nutrition program coordinator of the NNC Caraga, also said that this year's National Nutrition Month focuses on two things namely, healthy diet and affordable food for the Filipino people. He said that food affordability means the capacity to pay a market price for food compared to the proportion of a household's income and other expenses. However, he noted that the prices of food are getting higher.

Labordo reiterated the roles and responsibilities of the member agencies of the Regional Nutrition Committee (RNC) and the Regional Nutrition Technical Working Group (RNTWG) in the fulfillment of the nutrition programs in the region. He also asked for the support of the civil society organizations, which include the Gawad Kalinga, and to the members Association of Barangay Council (ABC).

On behalf of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Caraga assistant regional director and officer-in-charge Engr. Donald Seronay, Elenita Mandap, planning officer III/chairperson of the Regional Nutrition Evaluation Team (RNET), called on all parents to ensure nutritious food intake of their children to prevent malnutrition, and to support family members who are pregnant, so they may receive proper care for a healthy pregnancy and to have a safe delivery and healthy baby. She also stressed the need to practice exclusive breastfeeding to infants.

Meanwhile, Technical Director for Operations Rebecca Atega, who represented Engr. Ricardo Oñate, regional director of the Department of Agriculture Caraga and vice chairperson of the Regional Nutrition Committee (RNC), emphasized that without agriculture, there will be no adequate food for everyone. Hence, agriculture ensures food security to all Filipinos.

Dr. Victor Emmanuel Ozarraga, director of Gawad Kalinga, and co-chairperson of Regional Development Council (RDC) Caraga, elaborated that they have been engaging and implementing programs in the different barangays depending on their needs.

He said that everyone is equal in worth and dignity. In Gawad Kalinga, they work with family, LGUs, and other sectors in the communities. There are people who can not afford to buy food for themselves and their families because of poverty and unemployment, and that is their focus, to help them sustain life. He said that they are lucky that they have the capacity of doing something to address this concern.

Also, Gemma Tabada, president of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) and punong barangay of Baan Km. 3, highlighted that their barangay nutrition scholars are doing their best in monitoring the health and nutrition status particularly of the children in their area.

She also encouraged the youth to learn to love agriculture, appreciate backyard gardening, and help the nation in securing food for all Filipinos.

Meanwhile, Dr. Cassion, Dr. Labordo and the representatives from other government agencies, civil society organizations, and guests, led the unveiling of the 2023 National Nutrition Month logo.

All the participating sectors then expressed their commitment to support the government and uphold the right of every Filipino to accessible and affordable nutritious food, and integrate actions on transforming the food system towards a healthy diet.

Meanwhile, in the National Capital Region, up to 10,000 individuals and health buffs participated in the 14th Nutri Fun Run held by the Mandaluyong City Government on Sunday, July 2, to celebrate Nutrition Month and promote healthy living to the public.

Photo courtesy: Mayor Benjamin Abalos Facebook Page

Mandaluyong City Mayor Ben Abalos led the activity, along with Vice Mayor Menchie Abalos, Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos, and city officials.

According to the Mandaluyong LGU, the 14th Nutri Fun Run is part of a series of activities by the city government for the celebration of their 49th Nutrition Month.

The 3-kilometer run started at 5:00 in the morning from City Hall to Martinez Street to Fabella Road and back. The purpose of the activity is to encourage citizens to be active to keep their bodies healthy.

Mayor Abalos, who is also the head of the City Nutrition Committee, encouraged participants to have a healthy lifestyle, by choosing sports or games that they like or enjoy, or in various sports promoted by the city government such as boxing, basketball, and various types of martial arts. 

It can be recalled that July has been designated as Nutrition Month in the country via Presidential Decree 491 in 1974 to create greater awareness on the importance of nutrition.

Making healthy diets more affordable for everyone is important for a number of reasons. First, eating healthy can help people maintain a healthy weight and reduce their risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Second, eating healthy can improve cognitive function and boost energy levels. Third, eating healthy can help people feel better overall and have more self-esteem.

By making healthy diets within reach, we can help improve the health and well-being of people all over the Philippines.  (JCP - PIA NCR and JG - PIA CARAGA)

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Kate Shiene Austria

Information Officer III

Information Officer III under the Creative and Production Services Division of the Philippine Information Agency. 

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