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DILG supports National Nutrition month celebration

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) joined the whole nation in celebrating the 43rd National Nutrition Month recently by holding a nutrition caravan and an exhibit at the DILG Central Office in Quezon City.

Present during the unveiling of the exhibit were DILG Assistant Secretaries Ester Aldana and Hamid Ladjakahal, Bureau of Local Government Development (BLGD) Director Anna Liza Bonagua and Asst. Director Dennis Villasenor, and Dr. Azucena M. Dayanghirang, NNC Deputy Director.

In her welcome message, Director Bonagua said, "As we begin to celebrate the Nutrition Month today, let us continuously remind not only our local government units (LGUs) and field officers at the ground, but also ourselves, that nutrition should become a way of life in order to better give services to the people. We must start the quest for a healthy diet because we owe it to ourselves to give us and our families the healthy lives that we deserve."

She said that since the DILG is the Vice Chair of the National Nutrition Council (NNC), the Department has continuously provided assistance in advocating nutrition awareness at the local level.

One such assistance is through the facilitation of a survey to LGUs on the functionality of the Local Nutrition Council at the provincial and city/municipal level, which became the basis for the formulation of a database and checklist of interventions.

On the other hand, Dr. Dayanghirang pointed out that "this year's focus is to raise the public's awareness on healthy diet to create demand and mobilize them toward the reduction of both under and overnutrition, as well as non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and diabetes in the country."

During the exhibit, information, education and communication materials on the benefits of proper nutrition in the different stages of human development were distributed. There was also a consultation booth manned by nutritionist-dieticians from the Quezon City Health Department that provides nutritional advice and counselling for willing participants. Healthy snacks were also served to all those present during the opening of the exhibit.

The celebration of National Nutrition Month in July each year is for the purpose of creating greater awareness among our people on the importance of nutrition pursuant to Presidential Decree 491 or the Nutrition Act of the Philippines.

The theme for this year's National Nutrition Month celebration is "Healthy Diet, Gawing Habit - FOR LIFE!"

Recently, the Philippines has seen a decline in the consumption of vegetables and fruits among Filipinos for the past three decades. According to the 2015 Updating Survey by the DOST-FNRI, the mean per capita intake of vegetables was 123 grams, a tad lower than the recorded mean per capita intake in 1978 at 145 grams, the highest reported per capita intake of vegetables, while the mean per capita intake of fruits in 2015 was 37 grams, comparatively lower than the recorded per capita intake in 1978 at 104 grams. The highest reported per capita intake in fruits was in 1987 at 107.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a combined vegetable and fruit intake of 400 grams daily. Low intake of fruits and vegetables has been linked to poor health and increased risk of non-communicable diseases that contributes to the global mortality rate.

Low fruit and vegetable consumption attributes to approximately 1.7 million of deaths, where 14% of these are caused by gastrointestinal cancer, 11% are caused by Ischemic heart disease, and 9% are due from stroke.

Source: Department of the Interior and Local Government

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