MANILA — The Quezon City Health Department (QCHD) is linking modern technology to the growing ‘malnutrition problem’ in the country.
“Malnutrition” is an imbalance between the nutrients the body needs and the nutrients it gets.
The Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN), in recent workshop, said that malnutrition problem could manifest itself in two ways–“undernutrition” or “overnutrition,” which both requires proper plan of action.
“Overnutrition” refers to consumption of too many calories or too much of any specific nutrient — protein, fat, vitamin, mineral, or other dietary supplement.
“Undernutrition” is usually thought of as a deficiency primarily of calories (that is, overall food consumption) or of protein.
In the workshop, it was pointed out that overnutrition — which is characterized by obesity — is caused by excessive food intake, particularly unhealthy food from fastfoods and lack of physical activity.
The lack of physical activity was due to influence of modern technology or gadgets, which many children nowadays were busy with such as computers, laptops, cellphones, tablets and iPad.
“Most children, even in poor families, now enjoy playing gadgets either in sitting or lying position after eating, thus affecting their proper digestion of food and this eventually results in obesity,” said QC health nutrition program coordinator Marivic Perlada.
Perlada cited that in comparison to the old days or in the past, many children were physically fit then because very often they actively engage in physical sports and games like patintero, tumbang preso, luksong tinik, piko, sipa and other native sports.
She said that these sports and game activities now were almost forgotten due to modern technology, which does not require physical activity and movements wherein the children may burn fats and use the energy from the nutrients that their body took in when they eat.
These old games were not as “expensive” as the gadgets and almost all the materials in the games can be gathered or available inside the home and need not be bought outside.
These old sporty activities had helped children stay fit in the past because they can run, jump or move different parts of their bodies as they play in contrast with playing of gadgets nowadays where children fail to burn calories since they sit comfortably while eating or after eating.
Perlada said that parents could help in reducing poor fitness of children by monitoring their activities and limiting them on gadgets use and in eating on fast foods.
“As much as possible, encourage them to be active in physical sports rather than spend hours focused on computers and other gadgets,” she said.
She also urged the city’s 142 barangays to have pro-active barangay nutrition staff that will encourage and teach parents to prepare cheap but nutritious food for the family and spread health tips to parents to influence their children to observe good diet and engage in healthful physical activity rather than on gadgets or at least minimize its use.
Meanwhile, she said that PPAN was set to revive some health programs for Quezon City, including nutri-bingo, and other wellness programs like zumba sessions to promote proper nutrition.
In a related health forum conducted by the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) Dr. Lynn Gomez, a nephrologist, internist, and hypertension specialist, said that while the internet access had an advantage, it also had disadvantage as well.
“Due to exposure to internet, children lifestyle becomes sedentary,” Dr. Gomez said , adding that it was noticeable that children nowadays seldom engaged themselves in physical activities which were being played many years ago that required more physical movements.
She also said that children often become obese because of the parents way of rewarding the children.
Dr. Deborah Ignacia David-Ona of St. Lukes Hospital said that parents should begin teaching the children to have discipline in their intake of food right at their very own home.
“It is in our home where we should begin implanting to our children to prevent the fate of developing hypertension especially if they are prone to it due to genetic factors,” said Dr. David-Ona.
Ona said that since it was the mother who often went to grocery and purchased the foods that she prepared for her children, she should be the one to begin the discipline in making the right choice of foods and also telling her children where could obesity lead them.
She cited as an example herself when she said that as a mother, she refused to purchase “unhealthy foods” for her children such as junk foods.
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) National Commission on the Filipino Family (NCFF) executive director Rosario Dela Rosa, during a recent forum, said that parents could help in battling malnutrition problem or lack of nutrients by planting green plants in their own home.
“Green vegetable plants such as camote, malunggay and other leafy vegetable are good source of nutrients for your children. These plants when cooked in meals you prepared for your family do not only help in providing nutrition but also help in mitigating the effects of climate change,” Dela Rosa told families who attended the forum .
She also said that responsible parents thought of protecting both their families and their environment and such trait could be explicitly shown by heeding the call to grow vegetable plants even in pots so that they could have source of foods other than buying them.