MANILA, January 18, 2005 (STAR) The verdict for Filipino children is dismal – the prevalence of acute malnutrition among them is high and they are not getting the eight most essential nutrients necessary to spur their physical, social and intellectual growth.

Filipino parents may not realize this but there is something wrong with the nutritional intake of children and that it may not only stunt their physical growth but also retard their mental development as well.

This bleak picture of the nutritional situation of Filipino children is the result of studies made by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The latest update on the nutritional status of children conducted by the FNRI-DOST in 2003 revealed that among school-age children, 26.7 percent are underweight, 36.5 percent are "under-height" and 5.5 percent of preschool children suffer from thinness or acute malnutrition.

Studies in the past 11 years show chronic long-term cases of malnutrition, and preventive and curative measures over the years have been slow.

Considering that the mental and physical development of children are crucial in the early years, every effort must be done to arrest malnutrition at its earliest stage to prevent its irreversible effects.

Such factors as poverty, ignorance and lack of variety and balance in the choice of food for children have been pinpointed as the reasons why Filipino children do not get the full recommended daily allowance (RDA) in nutritional intake.

Nutrition and health experts have come up with a lot of solutions to this problem and have urged parents to be deeply aware of the essential nutrients they have to provide their kids to avoid having malnourished children.

Picking the right food or the right beverage means learning the appropriate balanced diets for children. Mothers could alternate meat, chicken and fish and cook tasty vegetable dishes that they would easily agree to eat.

Choosing a nutrition-packed, chocolate-powdered drink that contains all essential nutrients may spell out the difference. New Ovaltine Power, a tasty and inexpensive drink, has sufficient nourishing elements.

A breakthrough blend, Ovaltine Power has the eight essential nutrients that are deficient in the Filipino diet plus zinc. Called Activ8 Power, these nutrients which play a vital role both in the development of a child’s body and mind are Vitamins A, B1 and B2, folic acid, Vitamin C, calcium, iron and iodine. Now packed with zinc, Ovaltine Power is also vital for brain development.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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