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NNC-7: Stunting still a major nutrition issue in C. Visayas

By: Niña Mae C. Oliverio - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | April 14,2024 - 11:13 AM


CEBU CITY, Philippines — Stunting remains the main malnutrition issue in Central Visayas, according to the National Nutrition Council in Central Visayas (NNC-7).

In a press release, NNC-7 said there was a decrease in malnutrition cases in 2023, including stunted growth, wasting, being underweight, and overweight, based on their annual Operation Timbang Plus (OPT Plus).

However, stunting, which is when children are shorter than expected for their age, remains the biggest concern. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines stunting as a result of chronic or repeated undernutrition, often linked to poverty, poor maternal health, frequent illnesses, and inadequate early-life care.

In 2023, the OPT Plus results showed a decrease in malnutrition cases: from 8.5 percent to 7.2 percent for stunting, from 2.2 percent to 1.4 percent for wasting, from 3.6 percent to 3.2 percent for being underweight, and from 2.8 percent to 2.1 percent for being overweight.

Negros Oriental had a stunting rate of 4.7 percent, equivalent to 5,538 children. Cebu’s rate was 3.5 percent, affecting 9,725 children. Siquijor had a rate of 3.11 percent, affecting 179 children, and Bohol’s rate was 2.28 percent, affecting 2,165 children.

Operation Timbang

The nutrition council noted that the decline in malnutrition rates began when the pandemic started in 2020. They suggested that the decrease in coverage of the OPT program from 82.4 percent to 78.8 percent might have contributed to the drop in prevalence rates.

The OPT Plus is an annual assessment of child growth for children aged zero to 59 months in barangays, conducted by trained teams. It helps gather data on children’s nutritional status, identifies those who are undernourished or overnourished, and assists local government units in managing nutrition programs.

After the 2023 OPT Plus results, Dr. Parolita Mission, the nutrition program coordinator for NNC-7, urged local government units to address the issue of malnutrition.

“We urge local government units to implement interventions and invest in solutions focused on the First 1000 Days of a child’s life from pre-pregnancy to two years of age as an effective strategy against stunting in children,” Mission said.

READ: PPAN Visayas presents plan to address malnutrition, food insecurity in 5 years

The real cost of malnutrition

The First 1000 Days of Life is a key focus of the 2023–2028 Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN). According to NNC-7, interventions that local government units (LGUs) can carry out during this period include providing supplementary feeding and micronutrient supplements to pregnant women, promoting and supporting breastfeeding, and regularly monitoring the growth of infants.

PPAN is the framework for action and guide for the government’s commitment to addressing food and nutrition security challenges in the country launched in October 2023.

It outlines specific nutrition challenges and interventions for different life stages, such as pregnant and lactating women, and adolescents. /clorenciana


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TAGS: cebu news, health, malnutrition, National Nutrition Council (NNC), NNC 7

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