Nutrition food

Nutrition, food insecurity a public health problem: study

The country still needs to work to close the nutrition gaps, based on the recent results of the Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS) 021 published by the Department of Science and Technology of the Institute of Nutrition Research. food and nutrition (DOST-FNRI)

Conducted from July 2021 to July this year in 37 provinces and cities in the Philippines, with more than 141,000 respondents, the ENNS’ goal is to show “the general picture of the food and nutrition situation” during the pandemic.

Assessing respondents also involved obtaining details of their “weight and height measurements of all household members, blood pressure, adult glycemic and lipid profile”, and their “food intake”, among other things. .


The results revealed that when it comes to food insecurity, “three out of 10 households experience moderate food insecurity, 2% severe food insecurity.”

Food insecurity is “the state in which people risk or actually suffer from insufficient consumption to meet nutritional needs due to the physical unavailability of food, their lack of social or economic access to food adequate and/or improper use of food,” DOST said.

“Moderate to severe food insecurity was most evident in male-headed, low-wealth households with more than five members. Severe food insecurity was more evident among poorer households,” said Charina Javier, Senior Scientific Research Specialist at DOST-FNRI.

Those experiencing food insecurity often have to “buy food on credit” and “borrow food” from relatives and friends during the pandemic.

Others acquire “loans from relatives and non-relatives” to finance non-food items.

“Severe food insecurity was more evident among poorer households,” Javier said.


Stunting, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “low height for age”, remains an “important public health problem”.

Citing 2018 figures from the WHO, stunting is 21.6% for Filipino infants and young children aged 0-23 months.

“The prevalence is 8.9% in infants under 6 (months). 15.3% in 6 to 11 month olds and this rate increased significantly to nearly 30% (28.6%), a very high level in 12 to 23 month olds,” said Dr. Eva Goyena, Senior Specialist of scientific research at the DOST-FNRI.

For preschool children aged 3 to 5 years, stunting is 27%.

For school-aged children (5-10 years), stunting is still prevalent. One in five people, or 19.7%, suffers from stunted growth. It is “significantly higher in rural areas and in households of poor and poorer families”.

Meanwhile, “one in five adolescents (22.3%)” suffers from stunted growth.


According to WHO figures, underweight among Filipino infants and children is 12.3% and is considered a “medium public health problem”.

Underweight preschool children aged 3 to 5 years account for 19.7%.

This increases slightly at ages 5 to 10 to 20.8%, or one in five school-aged children, where underweight is “higher among males, those residing in rural areas and those belonging to to the poorest and poorest households”.


Wasting, defined as ‘low weight for height’, is 7.2% and is considered a ‘medium public health problem’ by the WHO.

Ten point 9% or one in 10 adolescents is wasted.


For infants to young Filipino children, there is a prevalence of 3.6% overweight for height and 5.9% for preschool children aged 3 to 5 years.

School-aged children between the ages of 5 and 10 have an obesity rate of 14%, while 13% or one in 10 teenagers are overweight or obese.

Obesity is “significantly higher in urban areas”, and higher among “children from affluent and wealthier households”.


While 91% of infants aged 6 to 23 months “consume solid, semi-solid or soft foods” at least 2 to 4 times a day, only 13.8% receive a “diversified diet”, or foods belonging to the minus 5 or more foods. groups.

But the “most problematic” aspect, according to Goyena, is that only 13.3% of infants receive the “minimum acceptable diet”, or the “proportion of children aged 6 to 23 months” who meet the “minimum of diversity food and meal frequency” to “ensure both dietary and nutritional adequacy”.

“Very weak po,” commented Goyena.

For school-age children, “energy and micronutrient intake” is also “insufficient”.


DOST hopes that the outcome of the study will enable the government to determine effective measures to address the challenges of malnutrition in the country.

“The ENNS results will also give us insight into how different government policies and interventions have been implemented, which can have direct and indirect effects on attrition with the COVID-19 pandemic,” DOST Secretary Renato Solidum said in a recorded message.

“We call on all development partners from government agencies, the academy, NGOs and civil society organizations as well as all local government units to invest in nutrition,” said Azucena Dayanghirang, Deputy Secretary and Executive Director of the National Nutrition Council.

DOST, DOST-FNRI, Department of Science and Technology Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, Nutrition, Malnutrition, Stunting