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The Jakarta Post
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Your letters: The role of nutrition

Fri, October 5 2012 | 08:51 am

The malnutrition of children in Indonesia has been at the center of international attention for many years now. Although the number of stunted children is swiftly decreasing, the proportion of children suffering from malnutrition is still substantially high.

There are more than 7.6 million children in Indonesia suffering from stunted growth. The number continues to increase due to natural disasters like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes that contribute to the increased levels of malnutrition in Indonesia. In the rural areas of Indonesia, children do not receive proper nutrition, resulting in poor health and physical development.

The nutrition received during childhood is crucial since it is the phase when the children’s bones are formed and other physical development takes place. A child’s brain develops more in their first two years than any other period of their life, and as a result, the mother’s diet is of utmost importance as it determines the child’s development to his fullest potential.

There are several factors that contribute to the level of malnutrition in Indonesia. Education, hygiene, negligence of parents, natural disasters and unhealthy alternatives contribute to the poor statistics. One of the major reasons behind this problem is also the dependence on milk.

Several other factors that affect the number of stunted children are the dependence on street food, ignorance and poverty. Parents belonging to the lower strata of the society are unable to afford daily necessities and prefer not to spend their money on food, thus resulting in stunted growth of their child. They rely on street food that costs around Rp 2,000 (20 US cents) per meal.

These types of food contain no essential nutrients that enhance and accelerate a child’s bodily growth. A child needs calories, calcium, iron and solid nutrition that is provided by fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken, etc. to grow healthily. A proper diet and cannot be substituted with formula milk, instant food and street food.

Joy Gracia Haryanto
Jakarta

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