The food consumption survey (FCS) conducted in 2008 by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) showed that the proportion of Filipino households meeting the recommended iron intake decreased over the last five years.
The survey also revealed that from 19.4 percent of households in 2003, the proportion significantly decreased to 13.5 percent in 2008.
The results further showed that the main sources of iron in the diet came from plants, like cereals and its products as well as vegetables.
Non-heme iron or iron from plant sources is not as readily available as heme iron or iron from animal sources like liver, oyster and shellfishes and fish.
Iron is needed to help build and maintain blood supply, give a healthy red color to the blood and prevent simple anemia.
Iron deficiency may cause easy fatigability, general weakness, poor physical performance, paleness in the face, conjunctiva, lips and fingernails, weight loss and nutritional anemia.
The FCS is a component of the 7th National Nutrition Survey (NNS) conducted every five years to update the nutritional status of the Filipino population.
The 7th NNS in 2008 showed that overall, 19.5 percent or about 2 in every 10 Filipinos have nutritional anemia.
Looking into the population groups, children 6 months to less than 1 year old have the highest prevalence of nutritional anemia at 55.7 percent or about 6 in every 10 infants.
Among pregnant women, 42.5 percent or about 4 in every 10 are anemic.
The prevalence rates of nutritional anemia among infants and pregnant women are considered of high public health significance based on criteria set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Children 1-5 and 6-12 years old, adolescents, female adults 20-39 years old, adults 40-59 years old, the elderly and lactating women have moderate anemia prevalence.
Moderate anemia prevalence ranges between 10 to 39 percent.
Only male adults 20-39 years old have low anemia prevalence at 6.8 percent.
While the prevalence of anemia decreased from 2003 to 2008, its extent still calls for strengthened intervention to address it.
Interventions may include providing nutritious complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding infants after 6 months, increasing consumption of iron-rich foods, providing iron supplements especially to pregnant women, and encouraging backyard or home gardening to increase food security at the household level.
For more information on food and nutrition, contact: Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City; Tel/Fax Num: 8372934 and 8373164; email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com; FNRI-DOST website: http://www.fnri.dost.gov.ph. (FNRI-DOST S & T Media Service: Press Release – CHARINA A. JAVIER)