Survey: Young Filipinos suffer food insecurity

The country’s future labor force are either malnourished or have already adopted bad habits, such as smoking and drinking, based on the latest data from the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI).

Based on the 2021 Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS), the prevalence of food insecurity nationwide was at 33.4 percent representing those who reduced their food consumption or skipped meals and 2 percent of this represent those who went on no food for one day or more.

This included many young Filipinos since stunting, underweight, and wasting affected nearly a fifth of children aged zero to 23 months; 3 to 5 years; school-age children; and adolescents. Children as young as 10 years old have also started smoking and drinking.

“During this pandemic the most vulnerable have been hit the hardest. Therefore ensuring good nutrition especially of the most vulnerable, that is women and children builds our resilience as a nation,” National Nutrition Council (NNC) Executive Director Azucena M. Dayanghirang said in a message of support at the ENNS data dissemination event.

“Nutrition adequacy is a smart Covid-19 response as it is a strategy for ensuring nutrition for resilience. Nutrition is a key foundation for human capital without food and nutrition, wala din tayong lahat dito,” she added.

FNRI data showed that among children aged zero to 23 months, 21.6 percent of them were stunted; 12.3 percent were underweight; 7.2 percent were suffering from wasting and 3.6 percent were overweight.

For children aged 3 to 5 years old, 26.6 percent of them are stunted; 19.7 percent were underweight; 4.8 percent suffered from wasting; and 5.9 percent were overweight.

Data for Filipinos aged 5 to 10 years old showed 20.8 percent were underweight; 19.7 percent were stunted; 14.1 percent were overweight; and 6.9 percent suffered from wasting.

Among those aged 10 to 19 years old, 22.3 percent were stunted; 13 percent were overweight or obese; and 10.9 percent suffered from wasting.

The data also showed the current smokers, or those who smoked at least weekly in the past month, included 8 percent of the 18 to 19.9 year olds; 4 percent of the 16 to 17.9 year olds; 1.1 percent, 13 to 15.9 year olds; and 0.01 of the 10 to 12.9 year olds.

The FNRI data also showed 13.2 percent of Filipinos aged 10 to 19.9 years are current drinkers or those who consumed one or more drinks of alcohol in the year preceding the survey.

Data showed 38.2 percent of 18 to 19.9 year olds are current drinkers followed by the 22.8 percent of 16 to 17.9 year olds; 7.8 percent of 13 to 15.9 year olds; and 1.6 percent of those aged 10 to 12.9 year olds.

FNRI data also showed 4.9 percent of 10 to 19.9  year olds consumed alcohol in the past 30 days and more than half or 51.4 percent are considered binge drinkers or consumed alcoholic beverages of four or more in a row.

The ENNS surveyed a total of 54,060 households and 200,853 individuals. The response rate for households was 89.8 percent or 48,530 households while the response rate for individuals was 70.3 percent or 141,189 Filipinos.