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Fill the nutrient gap report, Philippines

  |   SUN Country Network, SUN UN Network

Malnutrition is widespread across the Philippines. There has been little progress in addressing undernutrition, and overnutrition has emerged as a serious concern. This growing double burden hinders the country’s potential for social and economic development. Thirty three percent of children under the age of 5 years (4 million children) are stunted and unlikely to reach their full mental and physical potential. Overweight and obesity rates of adults have nearly doubled over the last two decades (up to 31 percent), contributing significantly to public health problems.

Despite overall economic growth, the percentage of stunted children has not reduced in 15 years due to several factors including poverty, natural and manmade disasters, low consumer demand for nutritious food, agriculture policies focused predominantly on rice self-sufficiency, low prioritisation from government agencies to address nutrition, and limited commitment and capacity of local government units to deliver nutrition interventions. Poor infant and young child feeding is indicated by an increase in stunting, from medium prevalence (17 percent) in children aged 6–11 months to very high prevalence (36 percent) in children aged 12–23 months.

Increasing overweight and obesity rates follow changes in the food environment and a concurrent shift of consumer preferences toward energy-dense processed food. There is, too, an increase in sedentary lifestyles that comes with rapid urbanisation.

Addressing malnutrition sustainably must take a lifecycle approach, targeting all children, adolescent girls and pregnant and lactating women, with a range of interventions adapted to the local context and coordinated across multiple levels and sectors of government. The Government of the Philippines recognises that addressing the malnutrition challenge requires broad cooperation and commitment from several government agencies, other public sector entities and the private sector, notably those across the food, health and social protection systems.

The way forward is to ensure access to the information and evidence that is required to inform and prioritise a range of effective interventions targeted at vulnerable populations. Interventions must be context-specific and appreciate the inequality of access to nutritious food, purchasing power and nutritional status, the rapidly developing economy and urbanising environment, and the vulnerability of populations under threat of natural and manmade disasters and living in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas.

 

Fill the Nutrient Gap: situation analysis for decision-making on nutrition

The FNG analysis is used to identify which nutritionspecific and nutrition-sensitive interventions are most appropriate in a given context to improve availability, physical access, affordability and choice of nutritious foods, which are required to have an adequate nutrient intake. Barriers arising from any of these systems can contribute to inadequate nutrient intake, one of the two direct causes of malnutrition (the other being disease).

The analytical process was developed by WFP with technical support from research institutes: the University of California, Davis; the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI, Washington DC); Epicentre (Paris); Harvard University (Boston); Mahidol University (Bangkok), Save the Children (SC-UK, London) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The FNG provides a framework for strengthened situation analysis and multi-sectoral decision making that identifies context-specific barriers to adequate nutrient intake among specific target groups. It engages different sectors, across the food, health and social protection systems in particular, to propose cost-effective strategies to overcome barriers. It has been used in almost twenty countries to date.

• Philippines: Fill the Nutrient Gap – English

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