Low veggie consumption a Cordillera ironyPhilippine Daily Inquirer
BAGUIO CITY—Despite living in a region that produces most of the country’s salad vegetables, many Cordillerans lack vegetables in their diet, health officials said.
To remedy the situation, Dr. Flora Pelingen, regional coordinator of the Department of Health’s (DOH) Center for Health Development, said Cordillerans should eat sayote, which is cheap and abundant in the region.
“Sayote is good for the heart because it has folate. It also helps prevent cancer. It has Vitamin C and manganese, and boosts energy and prevents constipation. It has Vitamin K so it’s good for the bones, and it has Vitamin B6 which is good for the brain,” she said.
Citing records starting in 2008, Pelingen said health officials noted that Cordillerans have been eating less vegetables, consuming less than 400 grams, the average daily consumption.
She said residents in the region eat an average of 169 g of vegetables daily, as shown by the DOH’s recent food consumption survey.
She said people should increase their consumption of vegetables and fruits to ensure a balanced and healthy diet.
Sayote, she said, is an alternative to expensive vegetables. A kilogram of sayote sells for P5 here. Many residents grow these in their backyards. Sayote plants thrive on idle lots and can be harvested freely.
Pelingen said the Department of Agriculture and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority are studying ways to make vegetables more marketable to consumers.
The decrease in the consumption of vegetables was noted in 2008 when a Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) survey showed that children as young as 5 years old consumed 25 g of vegetables a day while adults, aged 13 to 19, consumed 69 g.
Adults, aged 20 to 59, consumed 91 g, while people 60 years and older consumed 87 g daily, the FNRI survey showed.
Department of Education records showed that 15,809 elementary school students in the region are underweight, while 4,517 pupils are overweight.
“There is a decrease in consumption of vegetables because of their taste and texture. The family also is a factor. If your family does not like eating vegetables, then you will not be able to realize the importance of vegetables to your health,” Pelingen said.
She said the high cost of vegetables and the availability of instant noodles and fast food had also turned people away from eating vegetables.
“There are [ready-to-cook food] with food supplements but nothing beats eating fresh vegetables,” she said. Desiree Caluza, Inquirer Northern Luzon