21.6% of babies underweight, 10% of school kids overweight – DOH
MANILA, Philippines —An estimated 21.6% of babies aged up to 23 months are underweight while 10% of school children are overweight, Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, office in charge of the Department of Health (DOH), said in a press briefing on Tuesday.
Child malnutrition or being underweight has been a decades-long issue, Vergeire pointed out.
“This means that it has not changed much and we are not able to move on or progress or improve it,” she as she cited those percentages.
Undernourished children usually belong to poor families that could not afford to buy healthy food, Vergeire pointed out.
On the other hand, being overweight or obese is another nutritional problem among school children, including adolescents, she said.
Overweight children usually belong to families in which the parents are busy so the children rely on eating fast food.
Being overweight or obese is also a problem among mothers, Vergreire said — specifically in four in every 10 pregnant or non-lactating women, in three in every 10 lactating mothers, and four out of 10 adults.
“We are looking into that. This is a big issue that we are facing now in terms of nutrition. And we know the factors for nutrition, especially in terms of obesity or maybe because of stunting. This is not only a health issue. This is an issue in the whole society because there are a lot of social determinants or socio-economic factors that affect the families that give rise to these issues. The most important and critical factor is poverty,” Vergeire said, speaking in a mix of Filipino and English.
She said the DOH had been using different strategies to solve these problems “for the longest time.”
“Of course, first of all, there is our awareness campaign, our healthy lifestyle campaign — that we should not only look at diet, we should also look at physical activities for our children so they can be healthier. And for those who are undernourished, stunted, and wasted, we have dietary supplementation that we do and we help various government agencies,” she said.