THE National Nutrition Council Region (NNC) 7 reported a downward trend in malnutrition in Central Visayas in 2020, based on the partial results of the 2020 Operation Timbang Plus that local government units (LGUs) submitted to the agency.

Here are the partial results in Region 7, which cover children zero to 59 months old:

• 3.4 percent prevalence of underweight children in 2020 (or 20,218 children) from 3.97 in 2019 (or 29,742 children)

• 7.6 percent prevalence of stunted children in 2020 (or 45,810) from 10.25 percent in 2019 (or 75,535)

• 1.8 percent prevalence of wasted children in 2020 (or 10,771) from 2.56 percent in 2019 (or 18,949)

• 1.7 percent prevalence of overweight children in 2020 (or 10,013) from 2.78 percent in 2019 (or 20,536)

Dr. Parolita Mission, the regional nutrition program coordinator of NNC 7, said that this is still incomplete data because of the challenges of data collection last year due to the pandemic.

In Cebu, only 33.8 percent of children zero to 59 months old have been covered by the 2020 Operation Timbang (OPT) Plus, 73.4 percent in Bohol, 50.5 percent in Negros Oriental, and 61.4 percent in Siquijor.

OPT Plus is NNC 7’s annual data collection mechanism to know the nutrition situation of Central Visayas based on different nutrition indices, particularly stunting, wasting, underweight, and overweight.

First 1000 Days

Mission said that the challenge the region is facing is stunting or short for age because of its critical impact on the child’s ability to grow, thrive, and achieve full potential.

“This has some bearing to the human capital and economic productivity and development of the country. Stunting can be prevented with the First 1000 Days interventions where appropriate caring and feeding practices by the caregivers are of prime importance,” said Mission.

The NNC 7 also made the following points based on the partial results of the 2020 OPT Plus:

• The prevalence of stunting prevalence is still high in Central Visayas, but data may not be definite due to incomplete submissions from some LGUs.

• Both Negros Oriental and Cebu Province malnutrition prevalence in all indicators are significantly higher than the regional average.

• While Siquijor is below the regional average in undernutrition, it is high in overnutrition, a trend that has been consistent in the past years.

• Other LGUs who have shown a consistent increase in the prevalence of nutrition status in the following indicators include Guihulngan (underweight, stunting, wasting), Carcar City (stunting and overweight), and Bais City (wasting and overweight). (NRC)