MANILA — Obesity rates among Filipino children and adults have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study by the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Research Institute.
About 3.9 percent of children under-5 and 14 percent of children aged 5-10 are considered obese, data from the 2021 Expanded National Nutrition Survey showed.
Obesity also increased among adolescents (13 percent) and adults (38.6 percent), the report showed.
The figures were higher than the country's targets in the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) 2017-2022, according to the DOST-FNRI.
"The 2021 ENNS showed a general picture of the food and nutritional situation when the country was experiencing during pandemic surges," the agency said in a statement Monday.
The survey was conducted from July 2021 to June 2022 in 37 provinces and highly urbanized cities across the country.
A total of 141,189 respondents were covered in the 2021 ENNS, which included assessment of weight and height measurements of all household members, blood pressure, sugar and lipid profile of adults.
Meanwhile, 1 in 4 Filipino children under-5 or 26.7 percent were stunted or short for their age.
The figures were better than the country's adjusted target of 28.8 percent stunting rate, the DOST-FNRI said.
Thinness rates have also decreased to 5.5 percent among children under-5 and 6.9 percent among children aged 5-10.
The survey revealed that exclusive breastfeeding was practiced among 60.1 percent of mothers of infants.
However, only 1 in every 10 or 13.3 percent of children 6-23 months old met the minimum acceptable diet (MAD). This indicates poor quality and quantity of complementary foods, the agency said.
The 2021 ENNS also showed that 1 in 5 of adults or 19 percent was a current smoker, which was more common among men at 39.2 percent than women at 3.8 percent.
About a quarter of adults or 24.4 percent were current alcohol drinkers in the past 30 days, which was also higher among men at 41.3 percent than women at 11.7 percent.
The survey also revealed that insufficiently physically active adults were observed in 4 out of 10 or 40.5 percent, which was more common among women than men.
"The results from the survey are valuable data in crafting policies and programs addressing the effects of the pandemic and moving towards full recovery and achieving the country’s commitment to global development goals," the DOST-FNRI said.