Child malnutrition and stunting persist because most families cannot afford nutritious food, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) said.
The group conducted a survey through its Campaign Against Malnutrition and Child Stunting which showed that most Filipinos have a high level of awareness about malnutrition and stunting but are unable to access nutritious food due to poverty.
The survey conducted from August 1 to August 4 involved 120,000 respondents nationwide. It showed that Filipinos’ awareness of malnutrition and stunting are very high with 25.1 percent and 21.1, respectively.
The high prices of food was the main reason why most families could not access nutritious food for their children.
It was followed by limited, little, or no availability of fresh produce in their areas, lack of transportation to buy or get healthy food, and limited, little or no knowledge about what is nutrition and healthy eating.
The majority, or 48.4 percent, of the respondents said that they could eat vegetables and fruits only two to six times a week, followed by 36.3 percent who had access on a daily basis, and 10.7 percent only once a week.
On meat consumption as a source of protein, 52.1 percent of the respondents said that they can afford to eat meat two to six times in a week, while 28.5 percent can only afford it once a week.
Majority of the respondents consume processed and fast food once a week or two to six times in a week with 36.5 percent and 34.5 percent, respectively.
The MAP earlier called on the government to make malnutrition and stunting a priority. It urged businesses and companies to act on necessary reforms and initiatives to promote nutrition aside from feeding programs, which was shown as the only initiative known by Filipinos coming from the private sector.
The group said food companies or restaurants must offer healthier options or promote nutritious meals and should be transparent about the nutritional content of their food products and beverages. They were also urged to sponsor community education programs.
“Awareness isn’t synonymous with action: while awareness is high, it must be accompanied by action. Barriers obstruct the transition from knowledge to implementation, evident in understanding malnutrition, stunting, and the importance of a child’s first 1,000 days,” the MAP said.
“Beyond sporadic initiatives, sustainable resolutions tackling root causes like education, healthcare, sanitation, women’s empowerment, and poverty reduction are essential,” it added.
Thus, MAP emphasized a multi-sectoral approach involving government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and influencers on social media to use their platforms and strengthen the campaign against malnutrition and child stunting.
“Our message must not merely inform but incite and guide actions. Tailored strategies are required to empower individuals and communities to combat malnutrition and stunting effectively,” it said.