October 16th marks World Food Day. Action Against Hunger is determined to achieve zero hunger. Even as we celebrate the tremendous efforts of our supporters, partners, and communities around the world, we urge action and a renewed commitment from global leaders.
Undernutrition is the single greatest threat to a child’s survival. An estimated 155 million children suffer from irreversible physical and cognitive stunting as a result of chronic undernutrition: one in every three children in the world’s least developed countries suffers from this easily preventable condition. One million children die every year as a direct result of severe acute malnutrition. This is not just unacceptable, it’s a scandal.
World leaders declared 2016-2025 “The Decade of Nutrition” and have committed to a new global Agenda for Sustainable Development that charts the course for ending hunger and promising to leave no one behind.
There is still so much more to malnutrition that we need to understand in order for us to put an end to it.
Here are 10 facts about malnutrition you may not know about
1. Hunger and malnutrition usually go hand-in-hand. However, there is no guarantee that an abundance of food will stamp out malnutrition. In other words, food security and nutritional security are two different things. Malnutrition relates to the quality of the diet, and the inadequate intake of nutrients and proteins.
2. The cost of malnutrition is close to 5% of the world’s GDP. This represents more than CAD$4.5 trillion per year, or a little bit less than CAD$700 per person.
3. According to the World Health Organization, malnutrition affects one in three people worldwide.
4. There are different categories of malnutrition. A person unable to fully absorb food eaten while ill will be diagnosed with secondary malnutrition. A person consuming too many calories suffers from over-nutrition. Meanwhile, a person whose diet does not provide the adequate calories and protein for growth is categorized as undernourished.
5. Malnutrition is not only related to food. It is a more complex interaction between the foods consumed, the state of health and the physical environment. As a result, malnutrition is linked with medical and social disorders, and is often rooted in poverty.
6. Malnutrition can begin as early as conception. If a mother does not receive proper and nutritious food during her pregnancy, her child will be at risk of being stunted (being shorter than average height), wasted (having a low weight for its height) and underweight (low weight for age), as well as having possible neurological damage.
7. Child malnutrition is a widespread issue. UNICEF estimates that nearly 195 million children are malnourished worldwide.
8. On average, adults who were malnourished as children will earn at least 20% less than those who weren’t.
9. The first two years of a child’s life are critical for preventing malnutrition. Sustaining the quality and quantity of a child’s diet during this period can prevent future problems. This is referred to as the “Window of Opportunity” for interventions preventing cases of malnutrition.
10. Action Against Hunger tackles malnutrition using an integrated nutrition strategy. The approach combines the assessment of nutritional status of children, treatment of malnutrition and prevention of all forms of malnutrition. Read more.