Press Release
July 6, 2006

Filipinos eating less and less vegetables over the last three decadessurvey

Senate Committee on Health and Demography Chair Sen. Pia S. Cayetano has called on Filipinos to be more conscious of the types of food they eat in light of a recent government study indicating that the average Filipino diet may be getting less healthy in recent years.

Cayetano made the appeal to mark the "National Nutrition Month" of July as observed by the Department of Health (DOH). She was also reacting to a recent survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) showing that Filipinos have been eating less and less vegetables over the last three decades.

The FNRI survey showed that the mean per capita per year rate for vegetable consumptionor how much the average person atewas only 40 kilos. The figure represented just a third of the per capita rate in 1978 at 111 kilos.

"It appears that the average Filipino diet is getting less and less healthy because we haven't been eating as much vegetables as before," the senator said. "If unchecked, this could have serious implications on the problem of malnutrition in the country."

She added that the government should look into the possible reasons for our declining vegetable intake, and take urgent steps to promote a healthy dietespecially among the youth. One way is to encourage children to take on a healthy diet by encouraging school canteens to sell healthy and nutritious food over junk food and softdrinks. The selling of street food near school campuses should also be strictly regulated.

"Eating junk food may give a child a feeling of fullness or satisfaction of hunger, even if the required calories are not met. Worse, it may also lead to nutritional deficiency," she said.

Cayetano said these directives are contained in two orders issued by the education department for both public and private schools.

She cited DECS Memorandum No.373, Series of 1996 (issued by then Sec. Ricardo Gloria) which mandates school canteens to sell nutritious food items like fresh fruits and or vegetables in shake/juice form, rootcrops and cereals, among others, while discouraging carbonated, artificially-colored, sugar-based drinks and air-filled foods like curls and chips.

She also called attention to a similar order issued last year (DepEd Order No.14, series of 2005 signed by then DepEd Sec. Florencio Abad) which directs school personnel to coordinate with local government units and rural health units to regulate the sale of food and beverages by ambulant vendors operating within school zones.

"As a parent to two school children myself, I am aware of the important role that school administrators and teachers can play to instill in our young the importance of a healthy diet and food safety," she concluded.

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