Micronutrient Deficiency: Kaya Nating Labanan!
This conviction drives Nestlé Philippines in its fight against Micronutrient Deficiency. The company continues to partner with the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) to encourage students and their parents to eat and drink healthy foods and fortified beverages.
Millions of Filipino kids suffer from lack of Iron, Zinc, Vitamin C and other essential micronutrients, but various health advocates are confident that the situation can be turned around with extensive concerted efforts from both the private and public sectors.
The 2008 National Nutrition Survey conducted by FNRI-DOST reveals that millions of school children could possibly have Micronutrient Deficiency, which is a kind of malnutrition. Four out of five students suffer from lack of Iron and seven out of ten lack Vitamin C from their daily diet, while one of out five is deficient of Zinc.
Iron deficiency causes anemia in children over time, affecting body and brain functions that require iron-carrying red blood cells. Lack of Zinc, meanwhile, causes stunted growth and lowers immune system, making kids sickly and prone to infections. Vitamin C cannot be produced by the body and must definitely be obtained through diet; otherwise kids also suffer from weak immune system, weak bone and muscle structure, and slow wound healing.
Nestlé Philippines promotes food fortification as among the solutions to combat micronutrient deficiency. “This process of adding more nutrients to food and beverages gives consumers nutritious options to include in their diet,” said Babylyn Cayabyab, the company’s Nutrition Adviser.
Nestlé revealed a collaborative study it conducted with the FNRI-DOST involving over a hundred students from six public schools. The children were given milk fortified or may dagdag Iron, Zinc and Vitamin C everyday for a period of four months. They were supervised from Mondays to Fridays by their teachers and during weekends by their parents.
After the study, the children experienced increase in height and showed improvements in their concentration, comprehension and memory based on the tests used to measure these parameters. The children also showed higher levels of Iron, Zinc, and Vitamin C, important nutrients to help them develop strong body resistance.
“The students were no longer micronutrient deficient,” said Dr. Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa, assistant scientist of FNRI-DOST. Drinking fortified milk everyday really makes a difference.”
Nestlé and FNRI-DOST constantly share these findings with other health advocates and especially with the parents to educate them the importance of giving right nutrition to their kids. Mothers in particular are called upon to provide nutritious and fortified foods for their children to help address their Micronutrient Deficiencies.
Wilfrido de Ocampo Jr., Consumer Marketing Manager for BEAR BRAND Powdered Milk Drink, said that proper nutrition must be taken alongside drinking milk every day. “BEAR BRAND Powdered Milk Drink is fortified with Tibay Resistensya nutrients Iron, Zinc and Vitamin C to help maintain children in their proper growth and development especially during their formative years,” he said.
Jojo Dela Cruz, Senior Vice President and Business Executive Manager of Nestlé Philippines, also calls upon the public to do their share and fight micronutrient deficiency starting from their own homes.
“Everyone has a role to play to address micronutrient deficiency. We call on parents and schoolteachers to learn more about the impact of micronutrient deficiency in their kids because information is the key to providing better nutrition,” he said. He furthers, “We call on our friends in media to help raise the level of awareness about this issue and to also spread the good news that it can be addressed with a healthier diet.”
Dela Cruz ends,“We at Nestle will continue to work with the government to address this serious problem by providing and promoting options for a healthier diet especially for children. Food fortification with key micronutrients is in the core of our product innovation strategy. We are in the business of nutrition, health and wellness, but we are also in the business of nation building. And we do that best by providing Filipino families with high quality, affordable, nutritious and delicious food and beverages.”