Jakarta (ANTARA) - National Nutrition Day, commemorated every January 25, calls for a moment for the people, specifically parents, to reflect on whether they have already met children's rights by providing balanced nutritional intake.

To support children's development and prevent stunting, a balanced nutritional diet rich in animal protein becomes one of the important factors.

In fact, during this 2023 National Nutrition Day, the government set the theme "Animal Protein Prevent Stunting" to remind everyone of the importance of balanced nutritional intake based on every individual's need.

Meeting balanced nutrition means that every meal portion must contain macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and micronutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and water.

Proteins can be obtained from vegetables, nuts, and soybeans and also from animals, such as red meat, chicken, egg, and fish.

To support the efforts to prevent stunting, animal protein is akin to a light in the darkness wherein it serves as the children's strength to continue to grow and develop optimally.

Why is animal protein so important? Animal protein contains many important nutrients that the body needs, such as complete essential amino acids, and it also has abundance of micronutrients, such as vitamin, DHA, and iron.

In fact, essential amino acid composition of animal protein is more complete than that of plant protein.

The various nutrients in animal protein can be highly beneficial to support children's growth and development, and it will certainly be effective as a stunting prevention effort.

Health expert and nutrition specialist Nurhati Febriani stated that the nutritional contents in animal protein can stimulate the growth of brain cells during infants' first one thousand days of life or their golden growth period.

As an example, raw goldfish can contain at least 50 calories, and if cooked and processed, it can have up to 100 calories.

Meanwhile, the taurine amino acid found in fish plays an important role in brain development and stimulates the growth of children's brain cells.

Another example involves chicken egg, which when cooked sunny side up, can contain at least 75 calories, and a cut of raw beef, weighing around 35 grams and not been processed, can contain at least 75 calories.

To this end, increasing the amount of animal protein in children's plate will be a small step that has major impacts in the efforts to fulfill their nutritional needs.

Parents should implement the slogan "my plate is rich with animal protein," so that balanced nutritional dietary habit can become the prevalent lifestyle in families.

The commemoration of Nutrition Day can be the momentum to change people's dietary habits into one with balanced nutritional intake that is rich in animal protein.

Everything begins with families. If a healthy lifestyle is well developed, then children will get accustomed to it and will become good habits once they become adults.

Moreover, there are several diverse sources of protein, both animal and vegetable, in Indonesia that can easily be found.

This is in line with Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture Muhadjir Effendy's call for the people to use local food ingredients with high nutritional content.

People can opt for several local food ingredients rich in macronutrients and micronutrients, such as fish, eggs, tofu, tempeh, cassava, green beans, and kelorish leaves.

The people can freely create foods using these local ingredients to meet the nutritional requirement of their families, especially children.

Government's role

The people's active role to implement dietary habits, with balanced nutrition, will certainly support the government's efforts aimed at reducing stunting prevalence to 14 percent by 2024.

Currently, the government continues to make various efforts to improve the people's awareness and understanding of the importance of meeting balanced nutrition rich in animal protein through intensive dissemination and education activities.

The government also continues to improve accurate, specific, and sensitive nutritional intervention to support the success of stunting prevalence reduction acceleration.

Presidential Regulation No. 72 of 2021 on Stunting Reduction Acceleration stipulates that specific nutritional intervention involves activities conducted to handle the direct causes of stunting.

As an example, specific nutritional intervention in infants involves exclusive breast milk and additional food provision as well as vitamin A, micronutrients, zinc and iron supplementation.

Meanwhile, sensitive nutritional intervention comprises activities conducted to handle the indirect causes of stunting.

Sensitive nutritional intervention can be in the form of sick infants' prevention and medication, management of moderate and severe acute malnutrition cases, water and sanitation provision, and anthelmintic provision.

The government's efforts to expedite stunting prevalence reduction to meet the target hinges on the active role of all stakeholders and the people.

Meeting balanced nutrition in families became the main factor that will determine the success of the stunting handling program in the nation.

This is how important providing balanced nutritional intake is for children's development. To this end, we need to ensure that our children's plate is filled with food with balanced nutrition and animal protein.

The quality of a nation's human resources in the future, in other words, is determined by parents' accuracy in providing nutritional intake today.

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Translator: Wuryanti P, Fadhli Ruhman
Editor: Sri Haryati
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