We often get into the health and fitness lifestyle later on in life during adulthood. It is when we are mature, thinking adults that we are sensible enough to get into some kind of fitness program. After all, it is never too late to embrace a life of fitness and improve our health.
However, during our first 1,000 days of life (beginning with our first 270 days in the womb), it is extremely crucial that we receive proper care and nutrition in order for us to transition into our teens, and eventually adulthood. So yes, our overall health and fitness—that includes intelligence, is affected by how our parents care for us during that 1,000-day window.
Sadly, for some far-flung, impoverished communities in the Philippines, parents lack the know-how and resources to properly care for a child during this critical period.
Undernutrition in the Philippines remains a serious problem. The damage to health, physical growth and brain development of children affected by chronic undernutrition—stunting in the first two years—is often irreversible, impairing children for life and leaving them with lower chances of finishing school and becoming highly productive adults. Stunting, iron and iodine deficiencies impact learning abilities and intelligence of children. Studies show that populations affected by iodine deficiency have 10-15 IQ points less than those not affected.
Recognizing this, the Korea International Cooperation Agency and United Nations children’s agency Unicef, in partnership with the Department of Health and National Nutrition Council, have launched an integrated nutrition and health program targeting the first 1,000 days of life to benefit vulnerable children and women in the provinces of Samar, Northern Samar, and Zamboanga del Norte. Around 40,000 children under the age of 5, and 57,000 pregnant/lactating women are expected to benefit from this ambitious program.
The $6-million program hopes to improve the delivery of health and nutritional services in the target areas, while educating mothers and caregivers on how to properly care for children in the crucial 1,000-day period.
We ought to realize that while, for the most part, living a healthy lifestyle as adultsis something well within our control, infants in their first 1,000 days—especially those born under lacking circumstances—do not have control over theirs. Thus, programs such as these offer a good start in ensuring that children whose parents lack the means to properly nurture them early on, are given the opportunity to grow up healthy and be productive later on in life.
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