EcoWaste Coalition Makes a Pitch for Healthy “Baon” to Combat Obesity among Children

In a bid to prevent the health consequences of being overweight and obese among children, the EcoWaste Coalition today organized an event showcasing “baon” with good nutritional value that are within ordinary people’s reach and budget.

The “back-to-school” event dubbed as “Healthy Baon, Healthy Bata, Healthy Eswela” was held at the Sto. Cristo Elementary School in Quezon City and featured healthful snacks and drinks prepared by the Edukasyong Pangtahanan at Pangkabuhayan teachers of the said public school.

Among their snack creations were burger patty made of shredded banana heart, grated carrots and chopped malunggay leaves; pancake batter with mashed squash, coconut milk and malunggay water on it;  and spring roll with crushed camote and malunggay as fillings.

For healthier beverage options, the teachers concocted “Pinoy” drinks such as the malunggay, kalamansi and tanglad juice, guava juice and talbos ng kamote (camote tops) juice.

“We have staged this event to stir up interest and support for healthy school snacks and drinks as a way of reducing children’s consumption of junk food  that are high in fat, sugar and salt, which can lead to overweight and obesity problems at an early age,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Obese children are likely to stay obese later in life and are likely to suffer from related non-communicable diseases, hence the need to actively promote healthier foods, as well as regular physical activities, among our kids,” she pointed out.  

As confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO), “childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of obesity, premature death and disability in adulthood. But in addition to increased future risks, obese children experience breathing difficulties, increased risk of fractures, hypertension, early markers of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and psychological effects.”

Citing data from the 8th National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), the EcoWaste Coalition expressed concern over the rise of overweight and obese Filipinos from 16.6% in 1993 to 31.1% in 2013. The overweight and obesity prevalence was 5% among children aged five to 10 and 8.3% for teenagers aged 10 to 19.  

The FNRI cited physical inactivity, changing dietary patterns, child under-nutrition, and poor breastfeeding practices as possible reasons for the steady rise of obesity in the country. 

As stated by the FNRI, “creating a healthy food environment starts at home and school as they remain the largest sources of food access for children.”

Towards a healthy food environment, particularly in schools, the EcoWaste Coalition urged school administrators to strengthen their implementation of the Department of Education (DepEd) Order No. 8, Series of 2007, which states that “school canteens shall serve as a venue for developing desirable eating habits of pupils/ students.”

The DepEd guidelines also states that “only nutrient-rich foods such as root crops, noodles, rice and corn products in native preparation, fruits and vegetables in season, and fortified food products labeled rich in protein, energy, vitamins and minerals shall be sold in the school canteen. Beverages shall include milk, shakes and juices prepared from fruits and vegetables in season.”

The guidelines also prohibit “the sale of carbonated drinks, sugar-based synthetic or artificially flavored juices, junk foods and any food product that may be detrimental to the child’s health and that do not bear the Sangkap Pinoy seal and/or did not pass BFAD approval.”  BFAD is now known as the Food and Drugs Administration.