Malnutrition in the PhilippinesThe Republic of the Philippines is a nation comprised of several islands in southeast Asia. The Philippines gained independence after centuries of colonial rule from the Spanish and the U.S. in 1946. However, it is still struggling to overcome the effects long-term colonial rule had on its people. Despite many government campaigns to alleviate this issue, poverty is still rampant on these islands. While just over 20 percent of the overall population of the Philippines is impoverished, there are many areas of the country in which roughly 75 percent of the public live in poverty. While there are many factors that serve to further cycles of poverty, one of the biggest barriers this population faces is malnutrition in the Philippines.

Background on Malnutrition

A person impacted by malnutrition is not getting enough nutrients, either due to a lack of food or a poor diet. In children, this can lead to stunted growth. Furthermore, it can lead to serious health issues for people of all ages. These health issues can be chronic, and make it hard for individuals to have sustained employment. Additionally, these issues can leave children orphaned at a young age, perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

Malnutrition in the Philippines

  1. Half the population suffers from malnutrition-related conditions – In the Philippines, about 50 percent of the population suffers from anemia caused by iron deficiency. Large percentages of people suffer from other malnutrition-related ailments. Such ailments lead to fatigue and decreased immune function.
  2. Stunted growth is common – One in three children in the Philippines has had their growth stunted by malnutrition. If this stunting occurs after two years of age, there is a chance it can be irreversible and even fatal.
  3. Lack of education causes malnutrition symptoms to go unnoticed – Signs of malnutrition are often missed in the Philippines due to a lack of education the public receives on nutrition. A child with a large stomach may not be perceived as having a nutritional deficiency. However, a distended stomach is often an indicator that something is amiss.
  4. Malnutrition is bad for the economy – People who experience stunting due to malnutrition tend to have far lower incomes than those who did not. This is also the case for families who have lost a child due to malnutrition. Overall, malnutrition takes away approximately $328 billion dollars, or 3 percent, of the Philippines’ GDP per year.
  5. Children’s Hour is helping families – A nonprofit organization called Children’s Hour has set up across the country. The organization focuses on ending malnutrition in the Philippines. They do this by providing meals for families, as well as teaching them about healthy practices in eating and preparing food. When they began these programs, 90 to 95 percent of participants were undernourished. Now, 75 percent of the children are at a healthy weight. While this organization has made massive strides, it is a nonprofit with limited funding. For this program to expand, it would need a lot more funding.

Ending Malnutrition Can Offer a Brighter Future

Ultimately, ensuring that children have adequate nutrients in their diets can do a lot to ensure that malnutrition in the Philippines becomes a thing of the past. When rates of malnutrition decrease, people will be healthier, happier and more productive. And finally, far less will live in poverty.

– Gillian Buckley
Photo: Flickr

Cuddle+Kind Feeds ChildrenA fast-growing social business, Cuddle+Kind feeds children in need by donating ten meals for every handknit doll sold and empowers female Peruvian artisans through fair-trade jobs.

A Global Need for Food

One in seven people worldwide are hungry, and one in nine do not have enough food to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. A reduced diet causes 45 percent of deaths in children under five, which adds up to 3.1 million children every year.

Cuddle+Kind, founded by Derek and Jennifer Woodgate, was created with the aim of reducing these numbers and feeding hungry children around the world. The couple was inspired by their three young children and how heartbroken they would be if they could not feed and provide for them. The Woodgates have a background in health, so they understood the important role that nutrition plays in a child’s life.

The couple spent a year establishing partnerships with artisans in Peru and designing the dolls. Dolls in all different types of animals are available, including dogs, foxes, cats and bunnies. Each comes with a unique name and personality. Cuddle+Kind officially launched in September 2015 on the crowdfunding website In just seven weeks, the company sold enough dolls to donate 163,543 meals.

How Cuddle+Kind Feeds Children

Since its beginning, Cuddle+Kind has moved to its own website but maintains the same mission of providing ten meals for every doll sold. The company aims to provide one million meals to children in need every year. The meals are provided through several partnerships with nonprofits, including the World Food Program, the Children’s Hunger Fund, the Breakfast Club of Canada and several orphanages in Haiti. Through these organizations, Cuddle+Kind feeds children around the world and has donated more than 4,452,292 meals since 2015.

Proper nutrition leads to an increase in school attendance and improved educational performance. Girls have higher school attendance when food is not an issue. Additionally, a child’s psychosocial and emotional development has been linked to proper diet and eating habits. Children who are not fed regularly do not develop the same bonds with a caregiver that is typically established. When a family or community shares a meal there is a social component that a child is exposed to and learns from. As Cuddle+Kind feeds children, it provides them the ability to reach higher academically and grow to be stronger, more capable people.

Empowering Women in Peru

In addition to improving the lives of children, Cuddle+Kind empowers women in Peru by providing them sustainable, fair-trade income for creating the dolls they sell. The business has created over 500 jobs for Peruvian artisans, which is needed in a country where only 39.6 percent of women work in wage or salaried positions as compared to 50.1 percent of men.

Being a socially-minded organization, Cuddle+Kind feeds children with the motive of continually improving the world. As a business that works for the good of children in need and emboldens creative women, Cuddle+Kind is blazing a path of kindness and generosity that will have unending benefits for those they reach.

– Sarah Dean
Photo: Flickr