Latest Stories

Child malnutrition still high—report


Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares addresses participants in the 2013 Hunger Summit in Manila which opened Wednesday. In her keynote speech, Poe cited a study by UNICEF that said there are approximately 6 million Filipino children that are malnourished. PHOTO BY MATIKAS SANTOS

MANILA, Philippines – Malnutrition among children below the age of five has changed very little over the past 10 years, making it unlikely for the country to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of eradicating poverty and extreme hunger by 2015.

“The reduction of child malnutrition has been alarmingly slow,” Carin van der Hor, Country Director of Plan International and Convenor Organization of the Koalisyon Para Alagaan at Isalba ang Nutrisyon (KAIN), said during the 2013 Hunger Summit organized by the National Nutritional Council (NNC) Wednesday.

Children below five years old who are underweight remain at 20 percent while children who are below the average height-to-age ratio remain at 30 percent, Hor said citing National Nutrition Surveys as of 2011.

Families who do not get the 100 percent dietary energy requirement even increased from 57 percent of the population in 2003 to 66.9 percent in 2008, the survey said.

MDG Goal 1, target 1C calls to “Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger,” particularly on the “prevalence of underweight children under five years of age.”

Hor said that “given this situation, it is unlikely that the Philippines will be able to meet the MDG of ending extreme hunger by 2015.”

The failure of children to get sufficient nutrition will have long-term effects on their life aside from the physical manifestations.

“We learned that eliminating undernutrition in young children has multiple benefits including increasing gross national product, improving school attainment by at least one year, increasing wages by five to fifty percent,” Hor said.

Improved children nutrition also “reduces poverty because well-nourished children are 33 percent more likely to escape poverty as adults and, empowering women since well-nourished girls are 10 percent more likely to run their own business when older,” she said.

Irreversible effects

Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares signs the “Declaration to End Hunger and Malnutrtion in the Philippines” during the 2013 Hunger Summit organized by the National Nutritional Council Wednesday. PHOTO BY MATIKAS SANTOS

Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares, the keynote speaker of the summit, cited a study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) that said approximately six million Filipino children are malnourished.

“Various studies all say that the effects of childhood malnutrition are irreversible and that children who grow up underweight and stunted are most likely to end up as adults with inferior intellectual and physical capabilities,” she said.

“Almost all experts agree that on a macroeconomic level, malnutrition has a negative impact on a country’s level of productivity and growth,” Poe said.

A bill that she has filed in the Senate aims to give “free nutritious meals” to public school students from kindergarten to grade six, five days a week, over a period of 120 days for five years.

Poe said that Senate bill 79, dubbed the “Sustansya sa Batang Pilipino Act of 2013,” will cost the government an estimated P10 billion but will be worth the improvement in nutrition of the children.

Bigger families hungrier

Emmanuel Esguerra, Deputy Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said that hunger and malnutrition hit women and children hardest.

He said that they found hunger to be more prevalent in households with four-five members. “Families with seven or more children have higher hunger incidence [and even] experience severe, chronic hunger,” Esguerra said.

Hunger causes higher infant mortality rate, poor health that affect children’s physical and mental development, he said. Children who have gone hungry were less likely to socialize and also achieve less in school.

“Hunger is a hindrance to economic growth [and] feeds the cycle of poverty,” Esguerra said.

He further pointed out that a single increase in food prices will increase the hunger incidence over a period of one year and three months, worsening the malnutrition situation.

Hor said that the effects of hunger and malnutrition do not end with a person or with children.

“From an economic point of view, productivity loss is a consequence of people that are less educated than they could be had they been properly nourished,” Hor said.

“If we are doing what we are doing right now, we are not likely to meet [the MDG],” she added. “It would be an embarrassment and an injustice … to the children of the Philippines.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Grace Poe , Malnutrition , Millennium Development Goal , News

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  2. Gigi Reyes’ only option: tell all
  3. Unease in Vatican over cardinal’s luxury flat—report
  4. Santiago sees Palace hand in Gigi’s return
  5. Malaysia Airlines jet turns back after tire burst
  6. Gigi Reyes back to face charges
  7. Aquino vows to intensify anti-corruption drive further
  8. In the know: Gigi Reyes
  9. Healing priest invites political leaders to join ‘prayer for nation’
  10. ‘Malang’ next crocodile attraction after ‘Lolong’
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  5. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  6. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  7. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • Initial batch of Etihad passengers tested negative for MERS-CoV
  • Cagayan mayor shot during flag-raising ceremony
  • Malaysia, Flight 370 relatives talk financial help
  • Celebrating Easter and creativity in New York
  • Man wins half marathon, dies in Argentina
  • Sports

  • Reigning champs Miami open playoffs with win
  • Spurs subdue Mavericks in playoff opener
  • Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters
  • Ageless Hopkins pitches 50-50 Mayweather deal
  • Goodbye MGM, Las Vegas for Pacquiao?
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Solenn in shorts
  • Unmerry mix of attention-calling moves on ‘Mini-Me’ TV tilts
  • Persistence pays off for The 1975
  • Business

  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Golden Week
  • Bourse to woo Cebu stock mart investors
  • Supper power
  • Technology

  • Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks 25th anniversary
  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Obama on mission to quiet Asia skeptics
  • Search for Etihad passengers launched
  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Marketplace