Protein, micronutrient inadequacies highly prevalent in breastfeeding Filipino mothers’ diet — study

Published June 21, 2021, 12:00 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Are you one of those breastfeeding mothers who are chronically energy deficient?


Based on the results of study conducted by the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI), there is a high prevalence of protein and micronutrient inadequacies in the diet of breastfeeding Filipino mothers.

“The nutritional needs of breastfeeding mothers are increased to support the high nutritional needs of both the mother and the child. The energy requirement is increased by 450 to 500 kilocalories per day. As a result of increased maternal nutrient need due to milk production, inadequacy of the maternal dietary intake may result in the mobilisation of nutrient stores resulting in the loss of essential nutrients,” the DOST-FNRI said.

The cross-sectional, observational and non-interventional study titled “Statistical Analysis and report of the Food and Nutrient Intake and Dietary Patterns of Breastfeeding Filipino Mothers” showed that rice (94.3%), fats and oils (74.3 percent), sweetened beverages (68.6%), bread (65.7 percent), fish and shellfish (47.5 percent) were the top 5 most consumed foods of breastfeeding mothers.

“Dark green leafy vegetables (22.9 percent) were the least consumed food group of breastfeeding mothers,” it said.

The study was conducted in one of the private medical centers in Metro Manila. and it involved 70 mothers of healthy, full-term, and exclusively breastfed infants aged 21 to 26 days at enrollment.

The FNRI researchers found that the breastfeeding mothers’ top food sources of thiamine are rice (21.8 percent), sweetened beverages (16.7 percent), and chocolate beverages (16.5 percent).

“It can also be noted that top food sources for Vitamin C come mainly from sweetened beverages (35.5 percent) and fresh fruit,” the study said.

“On the other hand, top food sources for riboflavin and vitamin A are from powdered milk with 33.2 percent and 34.1 percent consumption, respectively,” it added.

The study also showed that the top 5 sources of energy are rice (43.1 percent), bread (8.1 percent), pork (7.7 percent), powdered milk (5.9 percent), and sweet bakery products (5 percent).

“Rice is the major source of carbohydrates (60.4 percent) and protein (28.6 percent). Pork is the top source of total fat (27.1 percent),” it said.

The FNRI team also found that the top food sources of calcium for breastfeeding mothers are powdered milk (38.8 percent), rice (12.7 percent), and sweetened beverages (8.9 percent).

Rice (26.4 percent) and bread (17.7 percent) are considered as main sources of iron. While, the top food sources of zinc are rice (28.5 percent), sweetened beverages (14 percent) and pork (13.7 percent).

The FNRI said the study sought to evaluate the nutrient intake of breastfeeding mothers to provide an efficient strategy for post-natal care and recuperation of the mother’s nutrient stores in order for them to provide adequate care to their newborn infant.

“Understanding the dietary patterns and nutrient gaps of breastfeeding mothers may be the basis for appropriate nutritional and behavioural interventions to improve mother’s nutritional status, and eventually lead to better growth and development of infants,” it said.