Assistant Secretary of Health and NNC Executive Director Maria-Bernardita T. Flores explained that this year’s Nutrition Month will focus on overweight and obesity. The 2015 Nutrition Month campaign aims to increase awareness on the role and importance of proper nutrition and physical activity in the prevention of overweight and obesity among the general public. It also aims to encourage Filipinos to make positive decisions towards consumption of healthy diets and be physically active to prevent non-communicable diseases as a result of overweight and obesity.
A/Sec. Flores further noted that more and more Filipinos, especially adults are becoming fat. Among adults 20 years old and above, the prevalence of overweight and obesity increased from 16.6% in 1993 to 31.1% in 2013. Actually, “women tend to be fatter than men with the prevalence at 34.4% for females and 27.5% for males.” Aside from the use of weight for height as a measure of obesity, the high waist circumference and high waist hip ratio among adults has also been increasing. The same trend was noted among preschoolers and school-aged children. Currently, overweight and obesity prevalence among children is at 5% while among teenagers it is at 8.3%. Analysis of the 2013 national nutrition survey results showed that children who belong to wealthier families tend to be more overweight and obese than those coming from poorer households. While these figures are a cause for concern, it is to be noted that undernutrition (underweight, stunting and wasting) is also a major problem. Thus, the country is faced with the so-called double burden of malnutrition. Overweight and obesity is also a risk factor to non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Despite significant advancements in recent years, many countries in Southeast Asia still face the triple burden of malnutrition – undernourishment, micronutrient deficiencies and obesity.
To address the long standing problem of malnutrition, the Philippines’ National Nutrition Council (NNC) will host the 2nd ASEAN Nutrition Surveillance Workshop-Conference to pursue the establishment of an ASEAN Nutrition Surveillance System, where delegates from the 10 ASEAN member-states are set to meet on 24-28 February 2015 in Makati City.
The objective of the project under the program “ASEAN Collaborative Project on Nutrition,” is to promote the sharing of information along challenges and good practices in improving nutrition condition, measuring progress using key indicators, and harmonized methodology toward attainment of regional and global goals through an ASEAN Nutrition Surveillance System Strategic Plan.
This process of nutritional surveillance can facilitate decision-making in relation to current and future policies, and direct targeting for health, nutrition and general development programs. Surveillance information can be utilized to promote actions that will alleviate or prevent malnutrition in the population on the individual, family, community, national and within the ASEAN region.
Almost a hundred participants from the 25 Nutriskwela community radio stations in 15 regions across the country and NNC technical staff from the central and regional offices attended the conference. This year’s Nutriskwela Conference provided a venue for the community radio stations to be updated on nutrition interventions and share experiences along the use of the radio station in disaster and emergency management, promotion of nutrition and along community development. Mr. Louie Tabing of Tambuli Foundation also known as the Father of Community Radio in the Philippines discussed the basic concepts of community radio operations. It was also noted during the conference that the prevalence of underweight in the areas where the community radio stations are located has improved over recent years.
In her message during the opening program of the conference, Assistant Secretary of Health and NNC Executive Director Maria-Bernardita T. Flores emphasized the importance of the Nutriskwela community radio stations opening up and maintaining linkages with LGUs and other community-based organizations, especially for those campus-based stations. A/Sec Flores also announced that NNC will be expanding the Nutriskwela network to another 10 stations this year. She added that the Nutriskwela program continues to grow stronger since it started in 2008.
The Nutriskwela Community Radio Network program is a long-term, cost efficient strategy to address malnutrition in areas with high prevalence of malnutrition and without or limited access to commercial radio by disseminating correct, current and relevant information on nutrition, health, food, and from all sectors of the community, the national government agencies, and non-government organizations.
After the back-to-back Awareness Raising Forum and Level 1 Training on the IPC (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification) Protocol for Chronic Food Insecurity Analysis held 28-29 October 2014 and17-21 November, respectively, the analysis workshop to generate the first Philippines chronic food insecurity map will be held. The workshop is scheduled on 20-24 January under the facilitation of 2 technical experts from the IPC Global Support Unit of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.
The analysis will focus on classifying the 18 provinces of the Philippines that include 13 priority provinces of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) according to IPC’s four levels of chronic food insecurity (low, moderate, high, and very high).
The IPC analysts are composed of the 31IPC-trained sectoral staff from government, nongovernment organizations, academia, and UN agencies. Ongoing preparation include data sharing and processing in preparation for the analysis proper using the web-based tool called the information support system (ISS). Data sources include the DOST-FNRI for anthropometric and food security data, and the Philippines Statistics Authority for poverty statistics and food and income expenditure data. IPC aims to provide decision-makers information on the severity, magnitude and determinants of chronic food insecurity in identified priority provinces to guide in nutrition and food security policy and program formulation.
As the institutional home of IPC in the Philippines, the National Nutrition Council of the DOH with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) provides overall directions in the implementation of IPC in the Philippines since 2008. IPC is being implemented at various levels in over 50 countries, to provide globally comparable and robust food security analyses, for better understanding of acute and chronic food insecurity situations and evidence-based nutrition and food security decisions.
Assistant Secretary Bernie Flores led the Philippine delegation for the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition held at the FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy on 19-21 November 2014.
The 2nd ICN was an inclusive inter-governmental meeting on nutrition jointly organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Health Organization (WHO) both of the United Nations.
It was a high-level ministerial conference that adopted a flexible policy framework to address today's major nutrition challenges and priorities for enhanced international cooperation on nutrition.
ICN2 brought together national leaders, senior national policymakers from agriculture, health and other relevant ministries and agencies, leaders of United Nations agencies and other intergovernmental organizations and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, researchers, the private sector and consumers.
The conference reviewed the progress in improving nutrition since the first ICN in 1992, reflecting on nutrition problems that remain, as well as on the new challenges and opportunities for improving nutrition presented by changes in the global economy, in food systems, by advances in science and technology.
It then identified policy and program options for improving nutrition, to be implemented according to the unique conditions of each country.
The National Nutrition Council will pursue in 2015 the conduct of a series of capacity building activities for 30 selected municipalities of the country as part of NNC’s strategy to capacitate local government units. The Early Warning System for Food and Nutrition Security is a component of the Philippine Food and Nutrition Surveillance System (PFNSS) that is intended to enable LGUs to take timely nutrition action through early detection of a worsening nutrition situation based on monitoring of nutrition and nutrition-related indicators.
The NNC, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations started the conduct of trainings for municipal and city level personnel on the Early Warning System for Food and Nutrition Security in the municipality of Botolan, in Zambales and in Panabo City, Davao del Norte in the 3rd quarter of 2014. This was followed by consultative meetings and training for local teams in another 8 local government units as part of the initial roll-out of the project in 2014. Another 20 cities/municipalities will be prioritized for 2015, this time through the joint efforts of NNC and FAO with support from UNICEF.
The training on Early Warning System for Food and Nutrition Security for LGUs includes 12 technical sessions, from basic concepts of data collection, nutrition and nutrition-related data analysis, to maintenance of the food and nutrition security early warning system. Participants include heads of offices of nutrition, social welfare and development, health, agriculture, planning and development and the local Sangguniang Bayan or Sangguniang Panlungsod. Barangay-based workers specifically the Barangay Nutrition Scholars and Barangay Health Workers together with the Rural Health Midwife are also trained on household data collection and analysis to enable them to correctly determine changes in household dietary patterns and growth of children 0-71 months, track hunger episodes and identify coping mechanisms of households, in the identified sentinel barangays.
An executive order creating the local Early Warning System for Food and Nutrition Security Team is issued by the partner LGUs to formalize the establishment of the Early Warning System for Food and Nutrition Security System in the community to ensure its sustained implementation .
Technical staff of the NNC Regional Offices have also been trained on the Early Warning System for Food and Nutrition Security to assist LGUs in the system’s establishment and maintenance and in its scaling up nationwide.
The Early Warning System for Food and Nutrition Security was modelled as a component of the Joint Programme of the Millennium Development Goals Fund (MDG-F) and later as a component of the Maternal and Young Child Nutrition Security Initiative in Asia project (MYCNSIA) of FAO and NNC.
The National Nutrition Council’s radio drama series Katumbas ay Biyaya was once again nominated for Best Public Service Program radio category at the 36th Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) on 29 October 2014 held at the GSIS Theater, Pasay City. Katumbas ay Biyaya was one of the six finalists chosen among 20 entries for the award category.
Now in its 9th season, Katumbas ay Biyaya is aired over DZRH 666 kHz AM every Saturday between 10:00 and 11:00 am. It is a 30-minute radio program featuring the dramatization of various nutrition and related concerns and then later discussed by a nutritionist-dietitian from the NNC. This is part of the NNC’s media campaign under the Promote Good Nutrition Program that aims to educate Filipinos to adopt positive nutrition behaviors. Past episodes are also aired nationwide in NNC’s 25 Nutriskwela community radio stations and in local radio stations by the NNC regional offices.
This is the fourth year in a row for Katumbas ay Biyaya to be a CMMA finalist. The radio program was one of the finalists in the 33rd and 34th CMMA for Best Public Service Program (radio category) while it bagged the 35th CMMA award in 2013 for the same category.
The Catholic Mass Media Awards organized by the CMMA Foundation, one of the most prestigious award-giving bodies, is an offering of the Archdiocese of Manila to media practitioners who embody what is good and true for God and humanity.
The National Nutrition Council held its annual National Nutrition Awarding Ceremony at the Philippine International Convention Center on 21 October 2014. Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr. was the Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker. NNC Governing Board Chair Enrique T. Ona was represented by Health Undersecretary Nemesio T. Gako. Senator Pimentel together with USec. Gako and Assistant Secretary of Health and NNC Executive Director Maria-Bernardita T. Flores conferred the nutrition awards to 16 outstanding local government units (LGUs) for excellence in nutrition program management and the National Oustanding Barangay Nutrition Scholars. Awards conferred were the Consistent Regional Outstanding Winner in Nutrition (CROWN), CROWN Maintenance Award and the Nutrition Honor Award.
The 2013 outstanding local government units and Barangay Nutrition Scholars that were recognized for their outstanding achievements are as follows:
In the recent call of Senator Grace Poe in her privilege speech at the Senate calling for an increase in the 2015 budget for children’s feeding program, the National Nutrition Council supports actions to address hunger and malnutrition especially among children.
While there has been some improvement in the nutrition situation of children in the country, the problem persists. Based on the 2013 national nutrition survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, 19.9% of children below 5 years old are underweight for their age; 7.9% are wasted or thin for their age and 30.3% are stunted or short for their age. Among children 5-10 years old, malnutrition continues with 29.1% are underweight, 29.9% are stunted and 8.6% are wasted.
The NNC recommends that priority should be given to nutrition and related interventions in the first 1,000 days or the first nine months in the womb until the child’s second birthday. These include interventions for feeding the nutritionally at-risk pregnant women, ensuring that infants are breastfed exclusively in the first 6 months and starting at 6 months, are given nutritious and appropriate complementary food while continuing breastfeeding. Priority should also be given to treating children who are wasted or have severe acute malnutrition as they have higher risk of dying.