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Educating mothers in rural areas, not just feeding programs, key to fighting malnutrition

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JOSEFINA T. GONZALEZ, a science research specialist of the DOST-FNRI, stresses the role of mothers in fighting malnutrition. — LEAN S. DAVAL, JR.

TEACHING MOTHERS about meal planning is key to addressing malnutrition among Filipino children, which is particularly high in rural areas where there is an abundance of nutritional crops, according to the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI). said both government and non-government agencies should focus more on nutrition education programs for the adults in the household rather than feeding programs for children. “The question is, after the feeding program, when they go back to their homes, Mommy will just give the children (processed) chips… And it is higher in rural areas maybe because the parents there, unlike those in urban areas, have lower educational attainment,” Ms. Gonzalez, speaking in mixed Filipino and English, said during a roundtable discussion organized by Alaska Milk Corp. “It is important that mothers know, for example, that ampalaya (bitter gourd) and malunggay (moringa) can provide the calcium requirements,” she added. The DOST-FNRI has been conducting training for Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS), who, in turn, convey to the community the lessons on nutritional meal planning and preparation. Ms. Gonzalez emphasized that malnutrition leads to stunted growth, both physically and mentally. “Stunting cannot be cured but can be prevented,” she said. — Maya M. Padillo





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