Nutrition Month 2016 theme focuses on First 1000 Days of life

The country is celebrating National Nutrition Month this July and the National Nutrition Council (NNC) is encouraging all sectors to focus on the theme "First 1000 days ni Baby pahalagahan para sa malusog na kinabukasan!"

The First 1000 Days of life is universally considered as the "golden window of opportunity" for any intervention aimed to maximize the potential of a child's growth and development. The First 1000 Days start from the first day of conception until the second birthday of the child. Broken down, that consists of 270 days of pregnancy, 365 days for the first year, and 365 days for the second year of the child.

(Image Credit: National Nutrition Council)

During this phase of child development, it is of utmost importance that the child receives the best nutrition care, according to the NNC. Any nutrient deficiency during this period can have long-term consequences. Likewise, good nutrition during first 1000 days can have a positive impact on the physical and mental development of a child, which can also have a significant effect on the success of the child unto adulthood.

But it is not only the child's nutrition that's important. Nutrition of the mother and the child go hand-in-hand for the child to achieve maximum growth and development.

NNC noted that several studies have shown a significant link between undernutrition and stunting in the child's early years and overnutrition in later years and the consequent development of non-communicable diseases.

Stunted growth, or bansot as we call it in Filipino, simply means that the child is shorter in comparison with other children of the same age.

Stunting is mostly due to poor nutrition and repeated bouts of infection during the First 1000 Days. "Children who are stunted have diminished cognitive and physical development, reduced productive capacity, and poor health," according to NNC.

Because proper nutrition is vital in the First 1000 Days of life, NNC wants to emphasize the importance of good maternal nutrition before and during pregnancy and during lactation; exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months; and "appropriate complementary feeding to babies starting at 6 months while continuing breastfeeding up to 2 years and beyond ", among others.

The NNC has been spearheading the campaign for Nutrition Month for the past 42 years, since 1974, so Filipinos can be made more aware about the importance of nutrition.

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