Proper nutrition concerns everyone - Manila Bulletin

In various residential communities in Metro Manila, people would know that it is already National Nutrition Month when school children and their parents walk through the barangays in a mini procession, the children in colorful vegetable costumes such as eggplant, tomato, apple, egg, milk, etc.

July is the designated nutrition month since ex-President Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 491 instructing the National Nutrition Council (NNC) to lead nationwide compliance. The aim of the law is to make Filipinos more aware of the importance of nutrition.

Schools are the best places to educate young people about nutrition, and they prefer to support the NNC in its educational and informational mission, because well-fed students are physically and mentally stable and easy to teach.

Teachers and parents support one another by showing children and young adults the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy eating and exercise habits.

Early in life, children should be taught how a healthy diet supports normal growth, mental and physical development, and painless aging, helps maintain healthy weights, and reduces the risk of disease that leads to overall health and wellbeing.

Good food, combined with adequate sleep and exercise, strengthens the immune system and protects against chronic, non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, malnutrition was a concern in the Philippines. According to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), the current rate of chronic malnutrition in Filipino children aged 0-2 years is 26.2 percent, its highest level in 10 years. Severe malnutrition causes permanent disability, stunted growth, and even early death, and children from poor families are most at risk.

If this problem is so severe before 2020, one can imagine how the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the malnutrition status of the population.

The government and its overseas partners, including the United Nations, the United States, China, Australia, Japan and South Korea, have worked together to provide Filipinos with access to food, water, livelihoods and medical care.

The Filipinos themselves can do their part by making it easier for the authorities to achieve the desired result – by growing food crops, raising farm animals, making a living. Any difficult problem can be resolved through the joint efforts of all sectors.

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