NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, July 21 (PIA) -- Anemia is still considered as a severe public health problem, according to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute's 2013 National Nutrition Survey (FNRI NNS).
FNRI Senior Research Specialist Salvador R. Serrano said anemia mostly affects four out of 10 infants ages six to 11 months in the Philippines and one in 10 school-aged children has anemia.
Pregnant and lactating women are also at-risk, with one out of four pregnant women and two out of 10 lactating mothers with anemia, he added.
Serrano said anemia, during pregnancy, increases health risks for mothers and newborns, as well as increases overall infant mortality.
"Anemia leads to poor physical performance, decreased productivity, weight loss, weak resistance and immunity to sickness, anemic babies born by anemic mothers and even death in serious cases," he said.
Lack of iron in the blood is largely due to lack of consumption of iron-rich foods like liver, meat, chicken blood, fish, shellfish, eggs, beans, nuts, dried fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, seaweeds and iron-fortified products, he pointed out.
Serrano said iron-fortified rice (IFR) is an ideal source of iron since Filipinos eat rice three times a day on the average. Developed by the FNRI of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), IFR is now increasingly made available commercially by technology adoptors nationwide.
"In developing countries like the Philippines, the most common cause of anemia is due to lack of iron-rich food in the diet," Serrano said.
Anemia was the most important contributing factor to the global burden of disease, according to the World Health Organization in 2002. (JBG/FNRI/LLJR-PIA6)