This year’s National Nutrition Month highlights the importance of the First 1000 Days of life.
In this year’s themed celebration, “First 1000 Days ni Baby Pahalagahan Para sa Malusog na Kinabukasan,” Valenzuela City intensified its efforts in curbing malnutrition among children and educating the pregnant women about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and giving appropriate complementary food.
Globally referred to as the “golden window of opportunity,” the first 1000 days of life is considered to start from the first day of conception until the second birthday of the child. It is the period of the children’s rapid growth development when nutrient deficiencies may have long term consequences.
Activities organized by the Valenzuela City Health Office (VCHO) and the City Social Welfare Development Office (CSWDO) both tackled the significance of nutrition and health education in the city. CSWDO coupled the nutrition month celebration with the promotion of common Filipino street games such as piko, patintero and agawang base in halfway homes, Bahay Kalinga and Bahay Pag-asa.
According to CSWDO Nutritionist Carolene Peñaredondo, the Buhayin ang Larong Pinoy is part of their nutrition month campaign because they wanted to encourage kids to engage in physical activities. The client-residents of the halfway homes played the traditional outdoor games during the nutrition month kick-off.
The Bahay Kalinga nurses also conducted a cooking demonstration of healthy food to their female clients who are either mothers or expectant moms, to encourage them to prepare nutritious meals for their children.
On July 19, a simultaneous forum for 75 expectant moms and mothers with infants, mostly members of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4 Ps), was also conducted by the local government at the Valenzuela City Social Hall. The speaker, Dr. Maria Elizabeth Cruz of the IYCF, talked about the importance of giving focus to the first 1000 days of life, citing that proper nutrition for both the mother and the child is an important factor for the growth and development of the latter.
Improved health statistics seen among preschoolers
In 2015, the prevalence rate of under nutrition among preschool children in Valenzuela City was at 1.54%, which is significantly better than the prevalence rate of 1.8% in 2014.
The Nutrition Office of VCHO recorded a total of 909 overweight preschool children last year, much lower than the 1,241 in 2014.
Severely underweight children also decreased with a total of 339 last year compared to 384 in 2014. This was a leap of improvement from the prevalence rate of 4.15% among preschool children in 2009.
According to the VCHO Nutrition Officer-In-Charge Dr. Bernadette Bordador, these positive statistics are attributable to the on-going Day Care Center (DCC) Supplementary Feeding Program spearheaded by then-mayor, now Senator Sherwin Gatchalian way back in 2009. Under the program, all day care children were given milk and nutrient-dense biscuits and vitamin supplements.