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Poor diets, failing food systems, and lack of physical activity are causing overweight and obesity in children

Sustainable, responsive, resilient and functional food systems can enable better and healthier diets, but while the food systems encompass a range of public and private actors, the role of government is crucial in developing and implementing programs and policies that address the production, distribution, accessibility, and utilization of food in the country.

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With the Philippines suffering from a triple burden of malnutrition together with other forms of undernutrition (including stunting and wasting), micronutrient deficiencies, along with overweight and obesity, the Department of Health (DOH), National Nutrition Council (NNC), FAO, WHO, and UNICEF jointly call upon the public, civil society organizations, academe, and the private sector to take action to prevent and manage childhood overweight and obesity.

According to WHO, overweight and obese children are more likely to stay obese into adulthood and to develop noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age. Obese children and adolescents may also suffer from both short-term and long- term health consequences.

Factors contributing to the increasing problem of overweight and obesity include poor diets, inadequate nutrition, and failing food systems. In addition, limited physical activity is likewise contributing to the growing problem on overweight and obesity.

Prevention remains to be the most feasible option for curbing the childhood obesity epidemic.

Results from the Expanded National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) in 2019 reported a relatively low prevalence of overweight at 2.9% among children under 5 years old; medium prevalence of 9.1% and 9.8% among children aged 5 to 10 years old and 10 to 19 years old, respectively.

Among Filipino adolescents, overweight has tripled in the last 15 years. There is a higher rate of overweight and obese children in urban areas than in rural areas and higher prevalence of several risk factors and environmental conditions could rapidly increase the rates.

These findings from the FNRI study, together with new studies and recommendations for action, will be shared during a dissemination forum on March 4, 2021.

“The Department of Health recognizes the emerging problem of childhood overweight and obesity in the country and although its prevalence pales in comparison with that of undernutrition, it will be unfortunate to prejudice the public health attention it deserves to mitigate its future risk on non- communicable diseases, premature death and disability in adulthood. Further, the economic costs of this escalating problem are considerable both in terms of the enormous financial strains it will place on the health care system and lost economic productivity,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.

“To prevent obesity, we need to start early, that is in the First 1000 Days of life when we could also prevent undernutrition, which could also result in obesity in later life” according to Dr. Azucena Dayanghirang, Executive Director of the NNC.

The NNC is leading the multi-sectoral Overweight and Obesity Management and Prevention Program of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) 2017-2022. The PPAN targets no further increase in child obesity by 2022 by fostering a healthy food environment and promoting positive nutrition behaviors towards consumption of healthier diets.

“From a public health, economic and moral perspective, it is imperative for Government and the whole of Society to act on this issue of childhood overweight and obesity. Curbing the childhood obesity epidemic requires political commitment at all levels, and the collaboration of many public and private stakeholders. A multisectoral approach is essential, and should provide supportive environments that encourage physical activity, restrict access to unhealthy foods and drinks, support mothers to practice exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months and to protect children from marketing influences. It is also important to ensure that policies and laws are fully implemented and protected from undue commercial interests,” said Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative in the Philippines.

Overweight and obesity are complex and multifaceted problems that would require multisectoral and comprehensive strategies to effectively and sustainably prevent and manage.

Sustainable, responsive, resilient and functional food systems can enable better and healthier diets, but while the food systems encompass a range of public and private actors, the role of government is crucial in developing and implementing programs and policies that address the production, distribution, accessibility, and utilization of food in the country.

“Maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet is especially important at this time of a pandemic. To promote and achieve healthy and nutritious diets, sustainable, functional and responsive food systems – borne out of collaborative and multi-sectoral action – are paramount,” emphasized Kati Tanninen, FAO Representative to the Philippines.“To this end, FAO is supporting the national government through the implementation of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition 2017-2022, which calls on policies and programmes to be ‘nutrition-sensitive’. Policy measures related to food systems that support healthy diets should be enforced. These policies and legislations should also be in line with – and guide the country’s actions towards – its pledges to global commitments such as the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016-2025 and the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly to SDG 2 on attaining Zero Hunger and improved nutrition for all. But more importantly, such legislations should be responsive to the country’s unique health and nutrition context, objectives, and priorities.”

In recent years, several legislations have been enacted by the Philippine Congress to support healthier diets and nutrition of Filipinos.

The Department of Education has also issued policies on sale of healthy foods and beverages in schools, as well as the promotion of physical activity.

“While there have been positive developments to enable an environment for better nutrition in the Philippines, there should also be a clear and prompt action to address the triple burden of malnutrition and to recognize childhood overweight and obesity as a central health issue. Aside from actively working with the Philippine Government and other partners to strengthen nutrition policies and plans, UNICEF also collaborates on generating evidence to better address overweight and obesity and ensure access to healthy food for children. We remain committed to support health and nutrition initiatives for every child, especially the most vulnerable,” said Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, UNICEF Representative in the Philippines.

The DOH, NNC, FAO, WHO, and UNICEF jointly call on the firm and continuous enforcement of the existing legislations, and to introduce front of pack labelling of commercially produced foods, and to regulate harmful practices such as the marketing of unhealthy foods to children. They also call on the public to change the way overweight and obesity is viewed by society and become advocates for change for healthy food environments and policies that prioritize obesity as a serious health issue.

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DKT Philippines Foundation unveils PH’s first family planning mobile clinic

The SODEX Mobile Clinic is an innovation to improve DKT Philippines Foundation’s SODEX Program and its contribution to achieving the DOH 8-Point Action Agenda and National Objectives for Health.

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DKT Philippines Foundation, a charitable non-profit organization promoting family planning and HIV prevention, officially launched the SODEX (Service Outreach and Distribution Extension Program) Mobile Clinic – the country’s first-ever family planning ambulatory clinic. This pioneering effort aims to provide safe and accessible modern family planning methods for Filipinos in far-flung areas to bridge the gap between Filipinos wanting to space and limit pregnancy and the disparities in Family Planning service provision.

The SODEX Mobile Clinic is an innovation to improve DKT Philippines Foundation’s SODEX Program and its contribution to achieving the DOH 8-Point Action Agenda and National Objectives for Health.

“DKT Philippines Foundation’s mission is to provide couples with affordable, and safe options for family planning, and HIV/AIDS prevention through dynamic social marketing,” said Loida Almendares, the Foundation’s Director of Programs. “The SODEX mobile clinic will provide a wide array of free family planning services especially in areas with lesser access to services like the geographically isolated or socially disadvantaged areas. The mobile clinic will bring the services closer to the people and meet them where they are,” she added.

The mobile clinic will provide free Family Planning commodities such as pills, condoms, injectables and intrauterine devices (IUD). It will also offer free bilateral tubal ligation (BTL) using local anesthesia and non-scalpel vasectomy (NSV). Onboarding the clinic are Physician/Surgeon trained on the provision of BTL, NSV, IUD, and subdermal implant services; FP-trained nurse; FP- trained midwife; a circulating staff, and a driver. To ensure that all clients are well-informed and fit to take the services, they will undergo counseling and final screening prior to getting the method.

In partnership with 30 LGUs from Luzon, DKT Philippines Foundation aims to foster sustainable and long-term partnerships with these LGUs to cultivate Filipinos’ desire to meaningfully participate and contribute to government efforts to achieve universal health coverage for all.

“DKT Philippines Foundation and its Family Planning Mobile Clinic reinforce DKT’s commitment to ensuring nobody is left behind and provides free and quality reproductive health options including permanent methods, to those most remote and vulnerable communities. Made possible by the sales of family planning products under the TRUST Reproductive Health Choices brand, the mobile clinic ensures that people who still cannot afford the highly affordable TRUST products, or cannot access the reproductive health services they need in the public sector, are not left behind and still have free access to these services. It is a part of a total market approach, complementing the important work the local LGUs do on a daily basis.” said Denise van Dijk, Chair of the Board of DKT Philippines Foundation.

The mobile clinic will travel for 119 days to offer free services in the provinces of Central Luzon, North Luzon, Cordillera, MIMAROPA and CALABARZON with the first stop being at Binangonan, Rizal where the launch took place. The clinic will stay in one area for a day or two from 8 AM to 6 PM. By next year, the mobile clinic will cover communities in the Visayas and Mindanao areas. 

The launch and blessing event was officially attended by fellow reproductive health advocates in public and private sectors, development partners, and family planning clients.  Guest of honor and speaker was Department of Health Undersecretary Dr. Glenn Mathew Baggao with special participation of the Mayor of Binangonan, Rizal – Hon. Cesar M. Ynares.

The programs and free services of DKT Philippines Foundation are made possible by the country’s leading brand of contraceptives TRUST Reproductive Health Choices, which is carried by the social enterprise DKT Health, Inc.

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Pru Life UK ramps up recruitment efforts

Through a series of Build Your Business (BYB) sessions—held online and in person in key cities across the country—seasoned PRU business builders share their success stories and tips to encourage attendees to pursue their own business goals.

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Pru Life UK ramps up its recruitment efforts to empower ambitious individuals from all walks of life to build a long-lasting business with the leading life insurer.

Through a series of Build Your Business (BYB) sessions—held online and in person in key cities across the country—seasoned PRU business builders share their success stories and tips to encourage attendees to pursue their own business goals.

“By choosing Pru Life UK, aspiring financial advisors can be confident that they are backed by the #1 life insurer in the country with strong market presence and solid financial results,” said Marylin Detalla-Averia, Chief Agency Officer of Pru Life UK.

The company ranks number one in the life insurance industry in the Philippines, garnering the highest New Business Annual Premium Equivalent based on the Insurance Commission’s report as of 31 December 2023.

“Our financial advisors are provided with all the support they need to help build their business. They have access to digital tools, development programs, hip offices, and attractive rewards and incentives with unlimited earning potential. This allows them to be their own boss and live their ideal lifestyle while helping clients achieve theirs.”

Celebration of success with #BuildYourPRUBusiness

While BYB sessions are held year-round, the company leads an energetic approach to recruitment this May.

Themed Paint the Town Red: It’s PRUFiesta time, Recruitment Never Stops!, BYB sessions will be held in  Metro Manila (Makati, Ortigas, QC), Pampanga (Clark, Sta. Rosa), South (Alabang, Lipa), North (Baguio), and VisMin (Cebu, Davao, CDO).

Attendees will receive mentorship on becoming a business builder with Pru Life UK’s 40,000-agency force, the largest in the industry.

A virtual BYB session will happen on May 22 featuring “Pambansang Wealth Coach” Chinkee Tan, who will talk about financial management and business development, further highlighting the importance of financial planning and empowering entrepreneurial mindset.

Pru Life UK also holds its weekly Facebook live Q&A sessions for budding and experienced business builders. Held every Thursday at 7:00 p.m., these online sessions offer a glimpse into the world of financial advisors. 

Seeking a meaningful and rewarding business opportunity? Visit bit.ly/JoinPRU2024 to join Pru Life UK’s BYB sessions.

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BAFI, USAID deliver biodiversity projects, MIND S-COOL TV and Biodiversity Crisis Escape Room

Both projects serve to innovatively highlight the critical concepts of “roles” and “collaboration” in addressing the biodiversity crisis as well as the “measures” of the values, not only monetary, that we should all consider living with nature.

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Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc. (BAFI) and the United States Agency for International Development have joined forces to bring you a two-part biodiversity special of MIND S-COOL TV as well as a traveling Biodiversity Crisis Escape Room (BCER). Both projects serve to innovatively highlight the critical concepts of “roles” and “collaboration” in addressing the biodiversity crisis as well as the “measures” of the values, not only monetary, that we should all consider living with nature.

BCER is the first, traveling, experiential, immersive space, made up of 3 main rooms that will stand for the biodiversity crisis. The goal is for the participants to escape the crisis TOGETHER by helping one another realize and fulfill their roles. BCER will be hosted by BAFI’s The Mind Museum right after its opening at the museum on May 22 and will travel to host venues in Subic (Harbor Point, June15), Puerto Princesa (Robinson’s Mall, June 29) and Davao (Abreeza Mall, July 27) to enjoin participants who include – legislators, enforcers, regulators as well as community leaders – including cultural leaders AND local flora and fauna as well in the form of life-sized moving puppets, manned by professional puppeteers. It will also welcome the general public to experience this very unique and meaningful escape room on the dates mentioned.

Inside BCER, participants will take on roles that they would randomly pick. They will enter 3 connected rooms that they could only escape from if they understand what needs to be done and that they work together. The challenges they will face in each room are closely tied to realizing the “Mga Sukat ng Kalikasan” (measures/values of nature) in order to escape the biodiversity crisis. The experience will be facilitated so it will mimic the real human conversations and actions that need to happen in decision-making involving our natural heritage in which we all share in terms of not just benefits but also responsibilities. 

The 2-part biodiversity special of MIND S-COOL TV, the #1 science show across all channels[1] is a TV version of BCER fleshing out a narrative that will involve our main questers as well as non-human “players” who will be called to help out since MIND S-COOL has been held hostage by the biodiversity crisis. They will experience being trapped in the rooms together with other characters, including life-sized puppets that represent non-humans such as flora, fauna, habitats, abiotic elements giving nature a “voice”. The story of this special 2-part can be summarized as “all life is embedded in nature and we need to realize its many values because if we don’t, the quality of our interconnected lives will be degraded.”  Part 1 of this special will air on May 26, 11 am and replayed at 4:30 PM on OnePh Channel on Cignal while part 2 will air the week after. These will be followed by replays for 6 weeks.

Kathy Wachala, Chief of Party for USAID’s Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans and Landscapes (SIBOL) project, says: “This partnership with BAFI to do BCER and MIND S-COOL TV enabled us to roll-out a very powerful way for stakeholders to internalize their actual roles and work together to come up with solutions to the biodiversity crisis.” Maria Isabel Garcia, Managing Director/Curator of BAFI, also comments on the project, saying, “We are so inspired by the kind of partnership we have with USAID SIBOL since it allowed us to recruit very imaginative ways of engagement for science to serve life, biodiversity.”

We can all escape the biodiversity crisis if we understand that all lives are interconnected and that we all work together, now.

To know more about the USAID SIBOL project and its interventions, you may send an email to info@ph-sibol.org.

Mind S-Cool TV and Biodiversity Crisis Escape Room were conceived and created by the Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc., the creator and operator of The Mind Museum and the BGC Arts Center.

To know more, or if you wish to know how you can support mind s-cool and the other projects of the Bonifacio Art Foundation, send an inquiry to: mindscool@bafi.org.ph, inquiry@themindmuseum.org or info@bgcartscenter.org.


[1] According to the latest Nielsen Ratings Survey

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