According to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), the number of stunted and underweight children is a "medium to high level" public concern.
The FNRI’s 2015 Updating of the Nutritional Status of Filipinos study revealed that one out every three or 31.1% Filipino children aged 5-10 years old are affected by stunted growth. Meanwhile, one out of every three or 31.2% of Filipino children aged 5-10 years old are underweight.
In a previous interview, DOH National Nutrition Program Coordinator Luz Tagunicar said that one of the causes is the lack of proper nutrition.
"Ang stunting o 'yung pagkabansot ay outcome ng pagkakaroon ng pangmatagalang kakulangan sa nutrisyon ng isang bata,'' according to her.
The FNRI has stressed that it’s crucial to give proper nutrition during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life as this period will determine their maximum growth potential.
However, even after the first 1,000 days, parents should still continuously give their kids proper nutrition throughout their developmental years. This will ensure children can still reach the right height and weight for their age.
According to FNRI, here are some of the signs that could help parents to identify if their child is underweight or affected by stunted growth:
1. Does not meet the standard height and weight for their age
The World Health Organization (WHO) has set the standard height and weight for kids according to their age. Weight or height that is too low for their age can indicate that they are underweight or have stunted growth, respectively.
Computing this can be tricky due to factors such as age and sex. While FNRI has assessment tools available on its website, it is also best to consult a physician or visit a local health center for guidance.
2. Gets tired easily
If a child seems unusually tired or low on energy, this might be because of lack of proper nutrition. Being underweight usually results from calorie and nutrient deficiency. Both of these are often caused by an unhealthy diet and lifestyle. Because children tend to love sweets and fried food, they tend to miss out on the essential vitamins they need to reach the right height and weight.
Kids need Vitamin D for normal Calcium absorption, Calcium for healthy bones and teeth, Protein for muscle growth and development, Iron for efficient production of red blood cells, and other nutrients to help them grow.
Good sources of these nutrients include vegetables and dairy, particularly milk.
For parents to learn more about stunted growth and state of being underweight, health experts recommend consulting a pediatrician, nutritionist, or any healthcare professional. Information can also be found on the FNRI and WHO websites.
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