Vol. XXV, 3rd Quarter
July to September 2007
Most mothers conscientiously plan, prepare, and pack meals or snack foods for their school-aged children.
Such love-spliced chore need not be cheerless, especially when trying to sort which food choices pack more nutrition than the surfeit of available options. The Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology developed food products that could improve the nutritional status of consumers and help local food manufacturers to also improve their products.
FNRI’s 6th National Nutrition Survey showed that iron deficiency is still one of the prevalent micronutrient deficiencies among Filipinos. Four in every 10 children aged 6–12 years old are anemic, the survey showed.
Anemia due to iron deficiency may cause short attention span, irritability, and fatigue. School-aged children with iron deficiency anemia (IDA) may have trouble in ability to concentrate.
IDA could be avoided by consuming foods high in iron. According to the FNRI studies, iron is present in variety of foods of both animal and plant origin.
Liver and glanular organs are the richest sources of iron. Meat, fish, and poultry are the other animal sources of iron.
Plant foods rich in iron include the legume family, green leafy vegetables such as gamet (seaweeds), kulitis (Spineless amaranth), dahon ng malunggay (horse raddish leaves), kangkong (swamp cabbage), dahon ng gabi (taro leaves), dahon ng kinchay (Chinese Celery leaves), dahon ng saluyot (jute leaves), talbos ng kamote (sweet potato leaves), and some dried fruits like prunes.
However, iron in plant foods is non-heme iron—which is less bio-available than heme iron in animal sources.
IDA could also be avoided by consuming foods fortified with iron. The Department of Health launched the Sangkap Pinoy Seal Program (SPSP) to encourage food manufacturers to fortify commonly consumed food products with iron, vitamin A, and iodine.
For its part, FNRI went into partnership with Moonbake Incorporated and developed technology for iron fortified chocolate crinkles. The chocolate crinkles are fortified with iron to increase the level initially present in fortified flour.
A 35-gram serving of the chocolate crinkles will meet one-third of the Philippine Recommended Energy Nutrient Intakes (RENI) for 7–12-year old children. The innovative product is an ideal and healthy snack food choice for school children.