Stunting, a crisis amid COVID-19 pandemic – NNC 10
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, July 19 (PIA) – Stunting is a crisis in this time of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic especially when there are no mitigating measures in place to prevent stunting among children, according to the National Nutrition Council (NNC)-10.
In the Philippines, stunting among children below five years of age is considered high in magnitude and severity based on World Health Organization ‘s(WHO) cut-off points. In fact, the Philippines ranks fifth among countries in East Asia and Pacific Region with the highest stunting prevalence and one of 10 countries with the highest number of stunted children in the world.
In region 10, four out of 10 of preschool children are stunted at 36.5 percent based on the 2015 National Nutrition Survey. There has been a slight increase from 33.3 percent prevalence in 2013.
Contrary to popular belief, NNC nutrition program coordinator Gladys Mae Fernandez explained, stunting is not hereditary. It can be based on maternal health which is the pregnancy period of the mother. The mother, she said, may not have received proper nutrition and care. Poor dietary or feeding processes among infants and children as well as infections brought about poor environmental sanitation could also contribute to stunting.
National Nutrition Council (NNC) -10 Nutrition Program Coordinator Gladys Mae Fernandez discusses the importance of nutrition amid COVID 19 pandemic during launching of Nutrition Month 2020 in July. (VPSBautista/PIA-10)
The COVID-19 pandemic will likely impact nutrition through several ways, as the Community quarantine disrupts livelihood and employment of the people and limit their access to safe and nutritious food.
An increase in reported hunger incidence at 16.7 percent in May 2020, which is doubled compared to the 8.8 percent reported in December 2019.
Stunting has grave consequences on individuals and societies both short and long-term. To the individual, it reduces intellectual capacity and poor school performance.
Stunted children earn 20 percent less as adults than their non-stunted counterparts. Those who have rapid weight gain after two years are at a greater risk of becoming overweight or obese in later life.
Meanwhile, short women have greater risk for obstetric complications because of a smaller pelvis and of delivering an infant with low birth weight.
Stunting is a direct cause for short adult height and suboptimal function in later life. It impacts on behavioral development. Stunted children are more apathetic, display less exploratory behavior, have altered physiological arousal.
NNC urges local government units to continue good nutrition implementation amid COVID-19 pandemic. Good nutrition is key to build immunity, protect against illness and infection and support recovery. (JMORucat/PIA-10)