SIQUIJOR (PIA) — Stunting prevalence in Siquijor province is significantly lower among children and adolescents compared to the national results of the Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS) Year 1 of the Department of Science and Technology–Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI).

The 2018 nutritional status of Filipino preschool-age children in Siquijor showed a stunting prevalence rate of 23.2 percent among children under five (0-59 months) and 17.5 percent among school-age children (5 to 10 years old) compared to the national results of 30.3 percent and 24.6 percent, respectively.

Prevalence of stunting adolescents ten to 19 years old is 20.6 percent compared to the national results of 26.3 percent. 

Underweight and wasting prevalence among children under five is also lower at 9.4 percent and 4.7 percent compared to the national prevalence of 19.1 percent and 5.6 percent and among school-age children at 19.4 percent and 6.2 percent against the national results of 24.9 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively.

Overweight and obesity, however, is higher at 4.1 percent among children under five, 13.3 percent among school-age children  compared to the national results of 4.0 percent and 11.6 percent but not statistically significant.

However, overweight and obese adolescents are also significantly lower  at 8.0 percent than the national prevalence ance of 11.6 which is more seen in non-poor than poor households, the ENNS said.

Anemia, the results revealed, is a“low to mild” public health problem among preschool-age children.

The survey further showed Siquijor having higher number of mothers practicing timely breast feeding initiation and continued breastfeeding while lower number practicing exclusive breastfeeding than national estimate.

Complementary feeding among children 6 to 23 months of age is inadequate in energy and nutrient as indicated by minimum dietary diversity (MDD) and minimum acceptable diet (MAD), the survey said.

MDD or minimum dietary diversity refers to the proportion of children 6 to 23 months of age who receive foods from the four or more groups of the following seven groups: grains, roots and tubers; dairy products; legumes and nuts; fresh meat; eggs; Vitamin A rich fruits and vegetables; and other fruits and vegetables.

Likewise, Minimum Meal Frequency (MMF) is the proportion of breastfed and non-breasfed children 6 to 23 months who received solid, semi-solid, or soft foods consumed at the minimum number of times per day defined as two times for breastfed infants 6 to 8 months old; three times for breastfed children 9 to 23 months old; and four times for non-breastfed children 6 to 23 months old.

MAD or minimim acceptable diet also means the proportion of children 6 to 23 months meeting both the MDD and the MMF to ensure both dietary and btrient adequacy.

The survey further revealed that anemia prevalence is also a public health problem with mild severity among school-age children but is higher among adolescents than the national estimate with more anemic females than males, though not statistically different.

Iodine intake of school-age children is also found to be adequate based on median urinary iodine.

However, pockets of iodine deficiency disorder (IDD) is present.

Siquijor province is one of the 32 provinces and highly urbanized cities (HUCs) included in the ENNS Year 1 conducted in July to August last year where 57 barangays from its six municipalities were randomly chosen as recommended by the Philippine Statistics Authority as survey respondents, said Provincial Science and Technology Director Mario de la Pena.

In Central Visayas, he said only Siquijor and Mandaue City were included in the survey. 

De la Pena said the consolidated data nationwide will also serve as the basis for crafting national health and nutrition plan on which the allocation of funds for the nationwide implementation of food and nutrition related activities will be based. 

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) in an article entitled “Mobilizing local governments to prevent child stunting” reported that the recent interest in stunting prevention is based on a better understanding of its consequences and the importance of health and nutrition inventions from pregnancy to the first two years of the child’s life, during which these interventions are most effective (UNICEF 2013).

Focus on child stunting prevention

In 2012, according to PIDS report, the World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted childhood stunting as major target for reduction by 40 percent from 2010 to 2025. The United Nations General Assembly followed suit in 2015, when it embraced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that included stunting prevention as an important target, adopting the WHA target by 2025.

In the Philippines, stunting prevention is a major objective of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) 2017-2022. The target is to reduce the prevalence of child stunting from 33 percent to 21 percent by 2022, with interventions focused on the first 1,000 days of life. A fresh mandate to address child undernutrition in the context of an integrated maternal, neonatal, child health, and nutrition (MNCHN) in the first 1,000 days is likewise provided in Republic Act 11148 passed in July 2018, PIDS report also said.

According to de Onis et al. (2013), this increased international attention to stunting is due to the following:

1. Stunting affects a large number of children globally.

2. It has severe short- and long-term health and economic consequences, including poor cognition and educational performance during childhood, which, in turn, results in low wages and lost productivity in adulthood. When child stunting is accompanied by excessive weight gain in late childhood, it may also increase the risk ofnutrition-related chronic diseases.

3. There is an international agreement on its definition and a standard that defines normal human growth applicable everywhere.

4. There is an agreement on a critical period, from conception to the first two years of life, within which linear growth is most sensitive to interventions related to feeding, infections, and psychosocial care.

5. It is a cross-cutting problem calling for a multisector response in food and nutrition security, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, health, poverty reduction, and the status of women. (rac/PIA7-Siquijor w/ DOST-FNRI & PIDS report) (source: )