DAVAO CITY – Malnutrition is costing the Philippines P328 billion, a report by aid agency Save the Children Philippines said.

The report titled “Cost of Hunger: Philippines” showed that the country is losing billions due to the effect of childhood stunting on the productivity of workforce and education.

The report said childhood stunting costs the country almost 3 percent of its Gross Domestic Product.

The overall economic loss includes:

  1. P166.5 billion worth of lost income as a result of lower levels of education achieved by the working population who suffered  from childhood stunting;
  2. P160 billion in lost productivity due to premature deaths among children who would have been members of our current working-age population;
  3. P1.23 billion in additional education costs to cover grade repetitions linked to undernutrition.

Ned Olney, Save the Children Phili ppines Country Director, said:“This study proves that undernutrition has a cost to all of us. In just a year, Philippines has lost almost 3 percent of its GDP in terms of education and productivity costs due to stunting. If we add up health costs, the likely impact would be an additional 0.05 – 1.6 percent.”

Olney added that if stunting is not addressed, families would find it difficult to break free from poverty.

“It is the poor and neglected sectors of society that carry the burden of stunting,” he said.

The report also showed that stunting is “the best predictor of productivity and income, and that undernutrition is linked to lower human capital.”

“Children who are stunted in the first two years of life are more likely to repeat grade levels, drop out of school, delay school entry and have lower income levels when they enter the workforce,” Save the Children Philippines said in a statement.

Very low gov’t spending in nutrition

The report also found out that the country’s spending in nutrition programs “is very low at only 0.52 percent of general government expenditures compared to the global average allocation of 2.1 percent.”

Save the Children said there is a need to invest in nutrition programs during the child’s first 1000 days, which is considered a critical period of care to address stunting.

“It should outrage us that 95 children will die every day because of malnutrition,” said Olney.

He said that “nutrition is the cornerstone of all development efforts.”

Olney also added that for every US$1 spent on nutrition programs to address stunting in children below 2 years old, “the Philippines could save over US$100 in health, education, and lost productivity costs.”

Olney added that an investment in nutrition programs to address undernutrition will also “stimulate economic growth for all Filipinos.”


Save the Children said both the government and the private sector should exert efforts in addressing malnutrition.

Among its recommendations are: support for the First 1,000 Days Bill to improve the delivery of interventions in the first 1000 days of a child to prevent stunting; push for equitable nutrition policies and programs to ensure budgetary allocations for programs that address malnutrition; ensure security of tenure and sustained training of barangay health workers; provision of clear and separate budget for nutrition-specific interventions from both national and local governments; and promotion of cost-effective and affordable high-impact nutrition interventions to prevent undernutrition such as exclusive breastfeeding, complementary feeding, vitamin A and iron supplementation, treatment of acute malnutrition and maternal nutrition.

The study also proposed to strengthen the enforcement of the Milk Code and the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act to protect, promote, and support optimal infant and young child feeding, both in private and public facilities and spaces; strict and sustained implementation of nutrition-specific interventions; revise the conditionalities under the government’s Pantawi d Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to include mandatory breastfeeding and education sessions on infant and young child feeding; alignment of nutrition programs to the directions of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition and the Strategy for Women, Infant, and Young Child Nutrition; and the increased focus on water, hygiene and sanitation interventions for children by targeting child-related behaviors and risks. (davaotoday.com)

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