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Nutrition body lays out 6-yr action plan: More underweight children in 10 CamSur towns

By Connie B. Destura LEGAZPI CITY --- The head of the National Nutrition Council (NNC) in Bicol said they have prioritized certain areas, where the local government units will be mobilized to help address “stunting” and “wasting,” which are among the nutrition issues being addressed by the agency in the plan of action it has mapped out in the next six years. Arlene R. Reario, head of NNC in Bicol, said its plan of action, also known as the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition or PPAN from 2017 to 2022, has noted that malnutrition among children under five years old is a major concern. “Malnutrition includes high levels of ‘stunting’ and ‘wasting’ for the under-five years of age, and those underweight and overweight-for-height (in the same age group),” she said. According to nutrition policy makers and planners, stunting occurs when a child has a short height for his age while wasting is when a child has low weight for his age. “PPAN 2017-2022 has prioritized the areas where there is greater magnitude of stunting and wasting,” said Reario. She said this would mean that the local government units in these areas would be mobilized to help NNC in its action plan. NNC-Bicol data show that in 2015 prevalence of stunting in the Bicol region was 40.2 percent which was 6.8 percent higher than the nationwide stunting of 33.4 percent. As to wasting, NNC-Bicol records show that in 2015 the prevalence of wasting in Bicol was at 8.2 percent compared to the nationwide rate of 7.1 percent. In 2016, NNC has also recorded the top 20 municipalities in the region which have high prevalence of underweight children: 10 in Camarines Sur; 4 in Masbate; 4 in Catanduanes; 1in Albay; 1 in Sorsogon; and no town recorded in Camarines Norte. Reario said aside from malnutrition, NNC’s PPAN from 2017 to 2022 has listed the six other nutrition problems prevalent in the country. These are deficiencies in vitamin A, iron and iodine; hunger and food insecurity; overweight and obesity; maternal nutrition; poor infant and young child feeding; and exclusive breastfeeding. Reario noted that NNC’s action plan is consistent with the health agenda of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte whose battle cry is “All for health towards health for all.”

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