Fighting micronutrient deficiency

Micronutrient deficiency continues to be a public health problem with no significant inroads made in the battle against malnutrition, according to data from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology,

Present during the event to launch Nestle's collaboration with the government are (from left): Catherine Sarmiento, Nutritionist Nestle Phils.; Kristine Mercado, Consumer Marketing manager, Bear Brand Powdered  Milk Drink; Wilfrido De Ocampo, Consumer Marketing lead Bear Brand Nestle Phils.; Jojo Dela Cruz, bus. executive manager Dairy Health & Nutrition Solution Nestle Phils.; Dr. Imelda Agdeppa, assistant scientist FNRI, FNRI-DOST; Trinidad Trinidad PhD, Nutritionist Scientist Consultant; Clarita Magsadia, FNRI; Edrienne Constantino, FNRI; Chona Para Len, Science Research Specialist

Studies have showed that many children are still underweight and underheight and that they are continually exposed to illnesses. The effects of malnutrition can range from simple to severe. Malnourished children usually lack focus in school.

The presence of health problems due to nutritient deficiency are not only a concern of the lower socio-economic group but also of members of the higher socio-economic group, who may have enough to eat although these meals are not well-packed with vitamins and nutrients.

Millions of Filipino school children are suffering from micronutrient deficiency, which is the condition in which their bodies are not getting sufficient amounts of micronutrients like iron, zinc and vitamin C. According to the 7th National Nutrition Survey, four out of five schoolchildren suffer from lack of iron in their diet, one out of five lacks zinc, seven out of 10 lack vitamin C. Iron, zinc and vitamin C are the three of the most common micronutrients that children fail to get from their diet.

Nestlé, with the help of FNRI-DOST, has found a way to address this problem with food fortification as one of the solutions. Nestlé nutritionist Kathy Sarmiento stresses that children should drink milk every day. In fact, she says even adults should consume at least one glass of milk during every meal.

Nestlé shares the findings of a collaborative study with FNRI-DOST involving over 100 students from six public schools. The children were given milk fortified with iron, zinc and vitamin C every day for a period of four months.

Bear Brand Powdered Milk Drink and Busog-Lusog Cereal Drink are among Nestle's products fortified with vitamins and minerals.

After the study, the children experienced an 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.

Kathy Sarmiento said these findings show the effectiveness of food fortification against micronutrient deficiency.

“Drinking fortified milk everyday like Bear Brand Powdered Milk Drink provides Tibay Resistensya Nutrients that helps strengthen immune system, and essential vitamins and minerals needed for better physical development," she said.

Wilfrido De Ocampo, Jr., Bear Brand Consumer Marketing manager, said Nestlé’s collaboration with FNRI-DOST is one of the ways to show commitment to promote good food and good nutrition.

“With greater health awareness and better food options, children are better equipped to help with their proper growth and development," he said.


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