First, the bad news: Filipinos are eating less and less vegetables. From 145 grams per day in 1978, consumption had decreased to only 110 grams per day in 2008.
The 2008 figure is 290 grams short of the 400 grams of vegetables and fruits average daily consumption recommended by the World Health Organization.
The good news is that the Cordillera, the country’s major source of temperate climate vegetables, had the highest vegetable consumption at 169 grams per day in 2008. Region IV-A (CALABARZON) and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao tied at the lowest at 92 grams per person per day.
These statistics from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology were cited by nutritionist Wendy Mana-a to place into perspective the 14th pre-Nutrition Month seminar conducted by the Cordillera chapter of the Nutritionist-Dietitians’ Association of the Philippines last Wednesday at the Veniz Hotel here.
National Nutrition Month, to be observed in July, is anchored on the theme “Pagkain ng gulay, ugaliin, araw-araw itong ihain”.
Mana-a then ticked off the 10 reasons for the low consumption of vegetables the FNRI found in a study commissioned by the National Nutrition Council 2005:
Influence of family members who do not eat vegetables, dislike for vegetables because of taste and texture, preference for meat, cultural beliefs about vegetables (e.g. eating squash can cause leprosy), vegetables are expensive, fear of chemicals and pesticides, longer time to prepare vegetables, preference for fast foods and instant foods, lack of supply, lack of knowledge on nutritional and health benefits of vegetables.
Some 160 barangay nutrition workers, 120 of whom are assigned in the city’s barangays, attended the day-long seminar spearheaded by city nutritionist, Angie Sabado, chair of the NDAP-Cordillera. The rest came from Benguet and Mt. Province.
Citing a WHO report, Mana-a said vegetables, as part of a healthy diet, can help prevent major non-communicable diseases and micronutrient deficiencies. . Approximately 1.7 million of deaths worldwide are attributable to low fruit and vegetable consumption.
Worldwide, insufficient intake of fruits and vegetables is estimated to cause around 14 percent of gastro-intestinal cancer deaths, 11 percent of ischemic heart disease deaths and about nine percent of deaths due to stroke.
To encourage children to eat vegetables, Mana-a said parents or caregivers must set the example eating vegetables themselves. “Parents need to monitor their own eating behavior so that their children will develop and keep healthy eating behavior for life.”
“I am very happy that we have you as our partner in pushing nutrition among pre-schoolers,” mayor Mauricio Domogan told the barangay workers in his welcome address. His own formula for good health, he said, is anchored on diet, exercise and attitude. – Ramon Dacawi.