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Gov’t using science to address PHL nutrition gaps: Nograles

July 29, 2020 - Wednesday 1:07 PM by MDM

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With a third of Philippine households unable to afford a diet that meets nutritional needs and the government stretching its limited resources to address the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Wednesday said the government is maximizing science and technology to fill the nutrition gap and better provide Filipino children with healthy food.

“The nutribun is an example of the science-driven solutions the government is pursuing to address hunger and malnutrition,” stressed the Palace official.

The Nutribun is a ready-to-eat bread that was distributed in supplementary feeding programs to combat child malnutrition in the seventies. 

Nograles said that the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) has reformulated the ingredients to come up with an Enhanced Nutribun that is more delicious, more nutritious, and has better texture.

The development of the enhanced nutribun is in line with the issuances of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Education (DepEd) on supplementary feeding programs and healthy and nutritious family food packs during community quarantine or other similar emergencies. 

At the Online Soft Launch of the Enhanced Nutribun organized by the DOST and FNRI, Nograles said that the government recognizes that “reducing the nutrition gap” is a top priority even as it grapples with the adverse impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak.

“In fact, this has become an even more urgent concern given that the incomes of many families have been affected by the quarantines in place because of the pandemic,” said Nograles, who also heads the government’s Zero Hunger Task Force.

Nograles lamented that reduced incomes “will mean families will have to find ways to make ends meet, and in the process many of them have to cut down their food budgets.”

“Not only is the quantity of their food intake affected, but the quality of the food they consume. In these situations, children suffer the most as malnutrition and undernutrition can affect the development of the child,” warned the former legislator from Davao.

“Given this, the challenge is how do we provide for the nutritional needs of these kids so that we can prevent the consequences of undernutrition like stunting? The Enhanced Nutribun is seen as one answer––one way we can achieve #GoodbyeGutom and Sana Tall, Sana All,” said Nograles, quoting the theme of National Nutrition Month, which is held July each year.

According to the study Fill the Nutrient Gap prepared by the World Food Programme and DOST-FNRI, little progress has been made in addressing undernutrition, and overnutrition. This, says the study “hinders the country’s potential for social and economic development” as “30% of children under the age of 5 years (4 million children) are stunted and unlikely to reach their full mental and physical potential.”

The study adds that “despite overall economic growth, the percentage of stunted children has not reduced in 15 years due to several factors including poverty, natural and man-made disasters, low consumer demand for nutritious food, agriculture policies focused predominantly on rice self-sufficiency, low prioritization from government agencies to address nutrition, and limited commitment and capacity of local government units to deliver nutrition interventions.”

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