‘Healthy Diet, Gawing Habit – FOR LIFE!’

Declining consumption of plant foods noted

By Lyka Mae P. Chiang

For this year’s Nutrition Month celebration, the National Nutrition Council (NNC) urges Filipinos from all walks of life to adopt a healthy diet and keep it as a lifelong habit.

With the theme “Healthy Diet, Gawing Habit – FOR LIFE!,” the occasion aims to raise awareness among the public and mobilize them against both undernutrition and obesity, and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and diabetes in the country.

NNC emphasizes that healthy diet means a balanced and moderate intake of a variety of foods from different food groups. According to the Department of Science and Technology – Food Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI), most Filipinos ingest a lot of energy-dense and nutrient-poor foods which are also rich in saturated fats, trans fats, refined carbohydrates, or sodium. Still, seven out of 10 Filipino households do not meet their dietary energy requirements needed for a productive day at school, work, or home.

As a result, disruption occurs in metabolic processes, physiological functions, and well-being of an individual. With a healthy diet, there can be an adequate supply of daily energy and nutritional needs, and thus, optimal health is ensured.

NNC also addresses the declining consumption rates of plant foods in the country, consequent to the shifting dietary patterns of Filipinos in the last 35 years. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that insufficient fruit and vegetable consumption is responsible for approximately 1.7 million of deaths worldwide and causes around 14 percent of gastrointestinal cancer mortality, 11 percent of ischemic heart disease mortality, and about 9 percent of stroke mortality.

With the increased availability of highly processed foods, such as canned goods and instant meals, NNC reminds those in the food industry to promote health diet as well by reformulating products to reduce fats, sodium, and glucose contents in the foods as they produce.

The NNC continues to gather support from different sectors and government levels to advocate healthy diet in homes, schools, and workplaces. It also persuades the public to support the nationwide campaign towards better nutrition in the country that can be implemented the whole year and not only every July. This is aligned with the belief that good nutrition is not only a month-long commitment but should become a daily habit.