NATIONAL Nutrition Council (NNC) officer-in-charge June Falancy said four provinces in the region remain to be "food poor."

Falancy said Apayao, Kalinga, Abra, and Ifugao are all included in primary and secondary priority areas of the NNC.

Click here for Election 2010 updates

The NNC representative said food poor areas do not equate to the lack of food but the lack of guidance in proper eating habits.

"The barangays nutrition programs should be pushed," she said.

Falancy said mothers are the target of these programs, which aim to equip them with knowledge for proper feeding habits to be passed on to their children.

In 2006, Benguet ranked last in a survey of malnourishment among pre-school children. The survey revealed Benguet had a measly 3.72 prevalence rating compared to Apayao's 16.28 standing.

For 2007 Apayao ranked number one followed by Abra with 15.68 prevalence next to Kalinga with 9.37 and Baguio City with 8.42 average. Baguio, although highly urbanized city, has lagged behind in nutrition surveys attributing to various factors including a ballooning population.

NNC records show caring skills by parents and in migration are factors contributing to the decline in nutrition in Baguio.

Apayao and Abra provinces topped malnutrition surveys since 2005. The Mountain Province pegged a 7.68 rating while Ifugao netted a 6.57 stand in the survey.

A study conducted by the Department of Agriculture showed a number of Filipino children, are malnourished pointing to the lack of vegetables in their daily diet.

NNC studies further showed that several barangays in the following provinces of Tawi-tawi, Sulu, Masbate, Apayao, and Zamboanga del Norte are either very vulnerable or very, very vulnerable to hunger and malnourishment. (Maria Elena Catajan)