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Barangay Ermita tops among the 80 barangays of Cebu City with a high prevalence malnutrition rate of 13.30 percent in 2010 among preschoolers aged zero to seventy one (71) months. City Health Department (CHD)-7 North Area Nurse Supervisor and Nutrition Coordinator Emma Gaviola said in an interview with the Philippine Information Agency that the other four barangays in Cebu in the top five spot with the highest prevalence malnutrition rate in 2010 are Alaska with 11.79 percent, Duljo with 9.60 percent, fourth placer Sapangdaku with 9.37 percent and fifth placer Buot Taup with 8.92 percent.

The data was taken from the City Summary Report on ‘Operation Timbang’ (OPT) 2010 where said age group of children are weighed regularly in the barangay health centers to check their nutrition status. More than 136T preschoolers were weighed from January to March last year where OPT results showed that there were 2,955 children out of the total figure were underweight (UW) and 826 are severely underweight (SUW) or a 4.37 percent malnutrition prevalence rate, based on the summary report of CHD.

According to Gaviola, Barangay Opra has recorded the lowest malnutrition prevalence rate of .38 percent among the 80 barangays in Cebu City. Gaviola also said the malnutrition prevalence rate in 2009 was 5.60 percent and it went down to 4.23 percent in 2010. Gaviola stressed that the mother has the crucial role in ensuring that their children are well-fed right from the day they are conceive as nutrition starts from the womb.

Mothers should visit the barangay health centers often and to be healthy always, Gaviola said. As long as, mother and child eat balanced diet and nutritious foods with more on vegetables and fruits, carbohydrates (rice) and protein (animal meat) then there is no reason that malnutrition among children will persist, she added.

Infants until six months old should be breastfeed and beyond six months, complementary foods should be introduced but breast milk must be continued even after two years, Gaviola said. Gaviola put emphasis on having the children vaccinated right after they are born and completes the vaccination until the child reaches 15 months. (PIA-Cebu/JSM)