Number of underweight children ‘high’ in Davao region – FNRI survey

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 September) — The number of underweight children with ages 0-10 years in the four provinces of Davao region is high, according to the results of the 2011 survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology.

Two in every 10 children aged 0-5 years old, and three in every 10 school-age children in the region are underweight-for-age, Ma. Adrienne S. Constantino and Cynthia A. Nones, FNRI senior science research specialists said in a forum on Wednesday at the Grand Regal Hotel here.

For underweight children who are 0-5 years old, the magnitude is considered medium in Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte, and high in Davao del Sur and Compostela Valley.

FNRI based the criterion underweight-for-age on the World Health Organization Child Growth Standards (WHO-CGS) and is considers it an indicator of acute malnutrition.

They said children who are underweight experience slow growth and development, perform poorly in school and are sickly.

Stunting, which is being underheight-for-age based on WHO-CGS and an indicator of chronic malnutrition, was also high among school-age children in Davao del Sur, and very high in Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

For 0-5 years old children, stunting is high in Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur and Compostela Valley, and very high in Davao Oriental.

The 2011 FNRI data also show that in the region, seven in every 100 children aged 0-5 years old and six in every 100 school-age children are underweight-for-height or wasted.

Wasting or thinness is an indicator of acute malnutrition.

On the other hand, three in every 100 children aged 0-5 years and six in every 100 school-age children in the region are overweight and obese.

Participants in the forum from the academe and health offices attributed the high incidence of undernutrition in the region to “gaps” in existing government policies and programs. They cited in particular the limited budget for feeding programs for pre-school and school children.

They also recognized that despite the mothers’ classes in the communities, only a few mothers would participate due to home chores and distance.

The participants added that vegetables produced in school and home gardens are being sold for income instead of consumed at home. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)

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