Suffer children

“A substantial portion of the severely food-poor children are under five years old.
Suffer children

As urgent as addressing the external conflict, or maybe a bit more is the ending the substantial level of food poverty among 2 million Filipino children based on the figures of a recently released global report of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The number means that nearly two out of 10 Filipino children do not have the required daily nutrients to allow them a healthy growth.

The report entitled “Child Food Poverty: Nutrition Deprivation in Early Childhood” indicated that a substantial portion of the severely food-poor children are under five years old.

They are deprived of most of the eight major food groups that are considered necessary for human intake daily.

In this year’s budget, P11.7 billion was allocated to the School-Based Feeding Program of the Department of Education which is the primary hunger mitigation program for children.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also has P4.1 billion for a Supplementary Feeding Program.

The level of appropriation to augment the food intake of kids is unprecedented, according to the government. Such allocation invites a pat on the government’s back until UNICEF released the results of its recent survey.

Considering that those affected by hunger are in their early formative years, the children’s capacity to fully develop their faculties is impaired.

According to UNICEF, humans particularly the young must access nutrients from The eight food groups which are milk, grains and roots, legumes and nuts, dairy products, meat, poultry and fish, eggs, Vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables, and other fruits and vegetables.

“Four out of five children are fed only breastmilk/milk and/or a starchy staple, such as rice, corn, or wheat. Less than 10 percent of these children are fed fruits and vegetables. And less than five percent are fed nutrient-dense foods such as eggs, fish, poultry or meat,” UNICEF reported.

UNICEF said children living in severe food poverty are in danger of having an irreversible negative impact on their survival, growth, and brain development.

Children who consume just rice and some vegetable soup a day are up to 50 percent more likely to experience severe forms of malnutrition.

The 2 million Filipino children suffering some form of hunger daily are part of 440 million youngsters living in food poverty around the world. UNICEF said of the total, 181 million children are living in severe food poverty.

The Philippines, according to the report, is one of 20 countries that account for 65 percent of children living in severe food poverty globally.

The report added that severe food poverty is not just driven by the inability to buy nutritious food, but also the failure to sustain positive feeding practices.

An “alarming” proportion of children in severe food poverty are consuming more “cheap, nutrient-poor” ultra-processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages, UNICEF said.

That comes to mind poor households that consume day-in and day-out, processed noodles packed with preservatives and very little nutrients.

“Consumption of unhealthy products was particularly high in Egypt, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Nepal and the Philippines, where more than one in five children consumed an unhealthy food and/or sweet beverage — despite these children consuming two or fewer food groups per day,” the report indicated.

Availability of food and the provision of information to households on proper nutrition must be provided instead of throwing to children packed foods where percentages abound.

The nutrition program bankrolled with P15 billion or so will go a long way if the amount is channeled to fill the stomachs of children instead of the pockets of public officials.

When it involves the welfare of Filipino children, the government must exert a bigger effort since it is the future of the nation that is at stake.

Daily Tribune