May 24, 2024

The National Nutrition Council wants every stakeholder to help make health diet affordable to every Filipino.

For this year’s Nutrition Month observance, the NNC is focusing its campaign on making healthy diet affordable for every Filipino family as a way of addressing malnutrition.

Regional Nutrition Program Coordinator Bella Basalong said collaboration is needed to make healthy diet affordable for every Filipino.

“We need to see where we can collaborate so we would know what else needs to be done to improve our food systems and reduce food prices in the country,” Basalong said.

The campaign takes into account the 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization that showed 68.6 percent or 75.2 million Filipinos cannot afford a healthy diet.

According to the study, the cost of a healthy diet in 2020 is P243.50 per person per day, which means a family of five needs more than P1,200 daily to consume healthy meals, a challenging scenario for households with members earning minimum wage.

The minimum wage in the National Capital Region that year was P475 and P380 in the Cordillera.

This year, the daily take home pay is P500 in NCR and P400 in the Cordillera.

Basalong said the challenges in having a healthy diet can be addressed at the level of the individuals or families and policy makers.

For individuals or families, creating meal plans and cooking meals at home rather than eating outside and choosing crops that are in season are basic ways to have an affordable meal.

Growing food at home and in community gardens and replacing more expensive foods such as meat with cheaper alternatives are also helpful in making healthy diet accessible for every family.

For food stakeholders in the food industry, reformulating products to reduce sodium and sugar contents and make them free of saturated fats from their food products, including producing food with less processing are also helpful in making healthy diet accessible for Filipino families.

For agencies, the NNC is calling for collaboration, saying the efforts to address malnutrition is not only a job of the Department of Health and the NNC, but also other offices that have programs directly related to food production such as the Department of Agriculture.

In terms of policymaking, Basalong said the recent ban on products with trans-fatty acids is a helpful way to force food manufacturers to produce healthier products availed of by the consumers.

This year’s Nutrition Month celebration theme is “Healthy diet, gawing affordable for all.” – Jane B. Cadalig