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The malnutrition problem

Malnutrition needs to be addressed in the country with more investments in programs and active participation from the private sector, the World Bank urged in a recent webinar.

Yoonyoung Cho, senior economist at the Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice at the WB, said there is a need to invest in programs to address the malnutrition problem, which can have long term implications.

“Malnutrition remains high due to the lack of availability and affordability of diversified nutritious food” she said.

Filipinos are consuming too much starchy staples and unhealthy sugary products, and eating less of the more nutritious food such as vegetables and fruits because of limited availability, low incomes, lack of affordability and poor choices. Cho fears that the rising prices of fuel, fertilizers and food could make the nutrition crisis worse.

Aside from malnutrition affecting learning outcomes, she said it is also seen to impact the labor market later on, in terms of lower labor productivity and reduced earning potential for individuals. She said an overwhelming amount of research shows investment in early childhood health and nutrition determines the labor market and lifelong earnings.

Investments should start on maternal and child health programs, as well as programs aimed at improving dietary quality and access to clean water and sanitation to ensure that most vulnerable populations benefit.

In the medium term, government and private sector can work on increasing farmer incomes through greater value addition and improved profitability, as well as increased productivity and lowering trade barriers.

Despite its far-reaching and often lifelong impacts, malnutrition remains a prevalent problem in the country, not only because of poverty, but also due to the lack of awareness and choices. The effort to combat it needs to be stepped up, by both the government and private sector, so less Filipino lives are sidetracked.*

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September 2022
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