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Impacts of malnutrition on children Essay

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Capacio (2013) once said that one of the underlying reasons for establishing feeding program is to provide targeted families and their children, an incentive to attend school. It is popular strategy for achieving both educational and social objective among school children, which includes combating and fighting hunger and malnutrition. She further said that its potential impact on education is that aside from alleviating short-term hunger among children, proper nutrition improves children’s cognitive functioning and attention.

Better nutrition provides them better assistance to diseases which would keep them from attending school, thus would indirectly improve educational achievement.

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School feeding programs could help supplement the problem for malnourished children through providing them with healthy meals.

Meanwhile, Manasan @ Cuenca (2007) assert that malnourished children often experience loss of mental capacities. They became sickly and loss their presence of mind. Because of this children that are malnourished often have low performance in school. School feeding program is done to reduce the number of malnourished children and improve their nutritional status and at the same time improving their performance in the class.

Bundy (2009) suggests that appropriately designed school feeding programs increase access to education and learning and improve children’s health and nutrition especially when integrated into comprehensive school health and nutrition programs.

Similarly, a recent review by Jomaa (2011) reveals relatively consistent positive effects of school feeding on energy intake, micronutrient status, school enrollment and attendance of the children participating in school feeding programs compared to non-participants.

At present there are approximately 300 million chronically hungry children in the world. One hundred million of them do not attend school. And school feeding programs have been
continuously gaining popularity in developing countries, mostly among those affected severely by childhood hunger and malnutrition. These program aims to enhance the concentration span and learning capacity of school children by providing meals in schools to reduce malnutrition.

Furthermore, Luistro (2012) said that 42,000 undernourished pupils stand to benefit from the Department of Education’s School Based Feeding Program, which aims to boost their health and help them do well in school.

He also added that the feeding program gives nutritious meals to pupils suffering from severe malnutrition for 100 to 200 feeding days.
According to Food for Education Stakeholders (2000), evidence strongly suggests that school feeding programs can increase attendance rates, especially for girls. School feeding or take home rations serve as incentives for enrolling children in school and encouraging daily attendance.

Early malnutrition can adversely affect physical, mental and social aspects of child’s health, which as a result leads on underweight, stunted growth, lowered immunity and mortality. The lack of nutrition imposes significant economic costs on individuals and nations including how it affects on academic performance and behaviors at school and long term productivity adults. Problems like delayed entry to school, less overall schooling, smaller stature and lower school performance among children represent a great motivation to impose feeding programs.

Henceforth, the researchers embark to pursue this study in order to determine the effects of feeding program to the health condition and academic performance of the students in Maasin Central School. In addition, the researchers believe that the results of this study would help curb the problems of malnutrition especially to younger children.

This study is basically premised on the theories of Ahmed (2004), Jukes, Drake @ Bundy (2008) and Adelman (2008). It is also supported by the following legal bases such as House Bill No. 428, House Resolution No.26 and DepEd Order No. 43, S. 2011. According to Ahmed (2004), solid empirical evidence of the impact of school feeding programmes on educational outcomes proves that school feeding increases school enrollment and attendance by reducing drop-out.

Enhanced nutrition and health of primary school children leads to improved learning and decreased morbidity, paving the way for healthier lives. He further said that the school feeding programmes not only alleviate child hunger in school, but also enhance nutrition, particularly when the food is fortified with micronutrients. This raises the potential to improve a child’s health, school performance and educational attainment.

Furthermore, Jakes, Drake @ Bundy (2008) state that when school feeding targets preschool children, it can help give a child a healthy head start and pave the way for a promising future. There is compelling evidence that poor nutrition in early childhood affects cognitive development and learning potential and poor health is an additional barrier to education. They further said that increased access to preschool can enhance education outcomes and equity among children of primary school aged-children.

School feeding should be seen as a part of a continuum and one of many potential interventions that support nutrition for pre- primary and primary school aged- children. School feeding in pre- primary schools, for children aged 3 to 5 years can be seen as preventive, and has the potential to bridge the gap between infancy and primary school age- 6 to 11 years in countries where pre- schools are part of the basic education.

Meanwhile, Adelman (2008) said that improving micronutrient status through food fortification or micronutrient powders, particularly of iron, B- vitamins, vitamin A and iodine, contributes directly to enhance cognition and learning capacity. Recent studies in Kenya and Uganda proved that both in- school meals and take home rations (THR’s) reduce anaemia prevalence.

In addition, Grillenberger (2003) believes that school feeding enhances the diet and increases the energy and kilocalories available to a child. It targets micronutrient deficiencies, which are widespread among school- age children in developing countries and which increase susceptibility to infection, leading to absenteeism and impairing learning capacity and cognition. Alderman (2011) highlighted the importance of school feeding programmes both as a social safety net for children living in poverty and food insecurity, and as a part of national educational policies and plans.

School feeding programs can help to get children into school and help to keep them there, through enhancing enrollment and reducing absenteeism. And once the children are in school the programs can contribute to their learning through avoiding hunger and enhancing cognitive abilities. Furthermore, school health and nutrition interventions have been recognized in addressing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of universal basic education and gender equity in educational access.

In order to achieve these goals, it is essential that even the poorest children, who suffer most from ill health and hunger, are able attend school and learn while there. Disadvantaged children- the poor, the marginalized, girls and children in fragile states- often suffer from ill health and malnutrition and therefore benefit most from school feeding program. According to Jacooby (2012) ascertained that school snacks in the Philippines were completely additional resources to the students in the program.

That is each additional calorie provided in school led to an identical increase to the total calories consumed by the student during the day. Numerous studies show that in school feeding has a positive impact on school enrollment or participation in areas where initial indicators of school participation are low (Jukes, Drake @ Bundy 2007).

Moreover, Greenhalgh (2007) @ Lehrer (2008) claimed that school feeding programs which provide meals at school (SPFs) or related take home rations (THRs) can improve enrollment and attendance, can address chronic hunger or micronutrient deficiencies and, by improving health or by increasing a child’s focus in the classroom, can enhance learning. According to Jomaa (2011), states that school feeding programs (SPFs) are intended to alleviate short- term hunger, improve nutrition and cognition of children and transfer income to families.

He also added that the positive impact of school feeding on growth, cognition, and academic achievement of school- aged children receiving SPFs compared to non- school- fed children was less conclusive.

This review identifies in the design and implementation of SPFs and calls for theory- based impact evaluations to strengthen the scientific evidence behind designing, funding and implementing SPFs Likewise, House Bill No.428 otherwise also known as “Child Nutrition Act of the Philippines”- (an Act establishing in the Department of Education a National School Feeding Program for elementary grade pupils) requires the implementation of a National plan of Action that will save millions of elementary school children from malnutrition and illiteracy by establishing in the Department of Education a National Feeding Program that could significantly reduce the prevalence of malnutrition and swiftly resolve related school and pupil- learning problems.

House Resolution No.26- a resolution directing the house committees on basic education, social services, health and government to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the implementation of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) particularly, the various feeding programs for public school children in children in early childhood care and education centers (Day Care Centers), elementary and secondary schools all over the country.

The resolution was filed on January 7, 2013 by Congressman Jonathan A. de la Cruz. Finally, DepEd Order No. 43, S. 2011 states that the Department of Education (DepEd) through the Health and Nutrition Center (HNC) should strengthen the School Health and Nutrition Programs (SHNP) into its key programs and aligning all its activities into one seamless whole.

This is envisioned to make this Department better able to determine the effectiveness and relevance of its programs, and to make responsive to the DepEd’s mission of enhancing the student’s motivation and capacity for learning, improving learning, outcomes, reducing absenteeism and ensuring that school- age children are able to stay in school as enunciated in the Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

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