Issue of May 5, 2019

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‘Malnutrition thrives on PH’s consistent food insecurity’
by DOST-FNRI release

The unchanged pattern of food insecurity in the country has contributed to the worsening malnutrition problem among Filipino children.

Based on the results of the food security survey component of the National Nutrition Surveys (NNS) and updating of the nutritional status of Filipino children and other population groups surveys of the DOST-FNRI from 2001 to 2015, the country’s food insecurity status remained high.

Food insecurity leads to hunger, which, when persistent, can lead to undernutrition, illnesses, and lower work productivity later in life and can have negative effects on the economic productivity of countries.

Food insecurity was measured through households’ experience of episodes of anxiety over food sources and experience of hunger.

The proportion of food-insecure households went down slowly from 84.4 percent in 2001 to 77 percent in 2003, 72.7 percent in 2008, 69.3 percent in 2011, 65.9 percent in 2013 but slightly increased to 66.1 percent in 2015 at an average rate of 3.7 percentage points per survey period.

Households observed to be more food insecure remained to be those with members considered vulnerable, such as those with zero to five-year-old children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.

Child malnutrition in the country remained high and even worsening. Stunting was at 33.4 percent in 2015, failing the Millennium Development Goal target. Wasting prevalence has essentially remained unchanged through the years, and by 2015, the prevalence is even higher than its 1989 rate of 6.2 percent.

Results of the study of Dr. Cecilia Cristina A. Acuin, former Chief Science Research Specialist of DOST-FNRI, together with the World Food Programme in 2015 showed significant direct association between the household’s food insecurity and a child’s malnutrition.

Appreciation of the complexity of the link among food security, hunger and malnutrition should be at the core of policies and programs to be implemented. Coordinated action to address them can even hit these problems all at the same time.

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