International studies have showed the Philippines has the ninth largest proportion of stunted children. Children in the Philippines suffer from 'sub-Saharan levels' of malnutrition that stunts growth in people who have traditionally been considered short because of genetics, revealed a campaign group called Save the Children Fund. The report suggests that although economic growth has surged in recent years, chronic malnutrition means the country has more stunted children than Ethiopia or the Republic of Congo.
Amado Parawan, the group's health and nutrition adviser, said, "The assumption has always been that Filipinos are just genetically short but what we actually see now are generations of stunted and malnourished children. About one in three children under five years of age is suffers from stunting. Sometimes, the families may hide such children out of shame that they cannot feed them. Because 'shortness' is considered a racial trait, it is not seen as a serious concern but stunting is more than just being short, it impacts children's future because it hinders physical and mental growth. Data collated by Save the Children showed Filipino men were on average five feet, three inches (1.6 meters) tall, one of the shortest in Southeast Asia."
Manila's own surveys in 2014 showed one in 10 Filipino families lived in extreme poverty, defined as earning 41 pesos (88 US cents) or less a day. The charity group said, "One in four Filipino children sometimes skipped meals, and as many as 1.5 million sometimes went a whole day without a single meal."
Ned Olney, Save the Children's country director, said, "These figures are sub-Saharan Africa levels of malnutrition. Little improvement has been seen in recent years. The government should implement measures to ensure children are well-fed, especially in the first 1,000 days after birth. Failure to address malnutrition will lead to many physically and mentally impaired people, hurting economic growth."