Jakarta. Children in half of all Indonesian households don’t get enough vitamins or minerals, either because their families can’t afford a healthy diet or are ignorant about proper nutrition, experts say.
Yulia Rimawati, a nutritionist at the Center for Justice and Care for Society (PKPU), said on Sunday that children who did not eat a proper diet were more likely to become ill, hampering their physical and mental development.
“The children also run the risk of not doing well at school because they can’t learn as well as children who get sufficient amounts of macro- and micronutrients,” she said.
Last year, only 69.8 percent of Indonesian children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years consumed vitamin A for six months in a row, while 27.7 percent of children between the ages of 1 and 4 suffered from anemia, according to the 2010 National Basic Health Study (Riskesdas).
“Only 62.3 percent of Indonesian households consume sufficient amounts of iodized salt,” Yulia said.
She said a lack of iodized salt made children more susceptible to mumps, among other illnesses.
She said the two main causes for incomplete nutrition were poverty and lack of education.
“Poverty is an impediment to anyone wanting to buy nutritious food, while lack of education means they don’t understand the importance of consuming vitamins and minerals, or micronutrients,” she said.
Yulia also said that a deficiency of carbohydrates and protein remained a common problem across the country.
“It remains a national challenge because these children are the future generation, the ones who will lead this country,” she said, speaking at an event in Jakarta to mark National Nutrition Day later this week.
As part of its commitment to the cause, the PKPU has joined forces with Sari Husada, a major dairy company, and Dompet Dhuafa, an Islamic charity organization, to start a new program, Warung Anak Sehat, or Stalls for Healthy Children, which will allow parents to buy nutritious food at affordable prices.
The program will also involve nutritionists educating parents and children about the importance of proper nutrition.
Naomi Jamarro, brand manager for Gizikita, one of Sari Husada’s newest powdered dairy products, said the Warung Anak Sehat campaign would support parents struggling with rising food prices.
“We realize that the price of food items in Jakarta is far different from in Papua, for instance, so we’re collaborating [with the PKPU and Dompet Dhuafa] in order to make nutritious food available and affordable for all children,” she said.
At Sunday’s event to kick off the Warung Anak Sehat program, Sari Husada donated 20,000 packages of Gizikita to Dompet Dhuafa and the PKPU.
The event also saw 100 children aged 2 to 5 years decorating nasi tumpeng — the yellow rice pictured above — with items such as pieces of fried chicken, scrambled eggs, carrots, shredded meat and fried tofu.
The competition was meant to raise the children’s awareness of the various kinds of nutritious food they should be consuming on a daily basis.
“I love decorating nasi tumpeng with eggs and carrot because they’re nutritious and delicious,” said Bila, a 5-year-old girl attending the event.