DOST-FNRI survey: 1 out of 4 children in Mindanao is underweight

Published April 28, 2021, 5:21 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

The nutrition survey results presented by the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) showed that there is one out of four children in Mindanao found to be underweight.


DOST, in a statement issued Tuesday, April 27, confirmed this after the information was revealed during Online Technology Forum for Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) by DOST-FNRI.

Lea B. Landicho, a science research analyst at DOST-FNRI, explained that the first 1,000 days of a child’s life – which begins in pregnancy – is “critical because the damage is irreversible if the child does not get proper nutrition during this period.”

DOST-FNRI noted that the trends in the prevalence of malnutrition among children less than two years old or 0-23 months in the Philippines show a decline in four nutrition parameters between 2015 to 2019: underweight (from 17.2 to 13.9); stunting (25.7 to 21.9); wasting (10.2 to 7.0); and overweight (4.2 to 2.6). Despite the decline, however, underweight and stunting are still prevalent in most parts of Mindanao.

“One out of four children, less than five years old, is underweight, which is a condition where children are found to weigh below the standard weight for the child’s age,” DOST-FNRI said.

“Underweight prevalence generally increased except for Lanao del Sur,” it added.

DOST-FNRI also noted that for the same age group, “four out of 10 are stunted. Stunting is based on height for-age index or when the height of a child is below the standard for the child’s age.”

Stunting, DOST-FNRI explained, reflects chronic undernutrition. “It’s a manifestation of past nutritional status wherein there’s a prolonged inadequate intake, recurrence of illness or improper feeding practices,” it added. Stunting prevalence generally increased except for Tawi-Tawi, DOST-FNRI said.

DOST-FNRI also noted that eight out of a hundred children, less than five years of age, are considered wasting or thin.

“Wasting or thinness is based on weight-for-height index or it is a condition when a child’s weight is below the standard for the child’s height,” DOST-FNRI said. “Wasting generally decreased except for Sulu and Tawi-Tawi,” it added.

On the other hand, DOST-FNRI explained that “four out of one hundred are overweight for their height among the less than five years old.”

Taking action

Alexis M. Ortiz, a research specialist at the technology transfer and commercialization section said that DOST-FNRI has activities and projects focusing on sharing the nutrition status with the end-users, “so that they’ll be encouraged to take action.”

DOST-FNRI has a Malnutrition Reduction Program (MRP) which addresses the undernutrition problem among young children in the country.

MRP includes the DOST PINOY strategy, a package of interventions involving direct feeding of rice-mongo based complementary foods for six months to below three years old children, and nutrition education among mothers and caregivers. This program has been on the roll-out in the countryside.

Among these food technologies are complementary food, such as rice-monggo blend crunchies and curls for snacks and ready-to-eat food for infants and young children, and micronutrient growth mix.

Bigmo is among the technology-based products of an adoptor of DOST-FNRI which produces rice-monggo food supplement for children. (Photo credit to DOST-FNRI zoom webinar)

The ready-to-cook blend of rice, mungbean and sesame seeds contains 130 Kcal (energy) and four grams protein per 30 grams serving portion – enough to meet the 18 percent of recommended energy and 28.6 percent of recommended protein intake of 6-month to less than 10-month-old children.