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Malnutrition

The Challenge


Good nutrition is the cornerstone for survival, health and development for current and succeeding generations. Well-nourished children perform better in school, grow into healthy adults and in turn give their children a better start in life. Well-nourished women face fewer risks during pregnancy and childbirth, and their children set off on firmer developmental paths, both physically and mentally.

Under nutrition is implicated in more than half of all child deaths worldwide. Undernourished children have lowered resistance to infection; they are more likely to die from common childhood ailments like diarrhea diseases and respiratory infections, and for those who survive, frequent illness saps their nutritional status, locking them into a vicious cycle of recurring sickness and faltering growth. Their plight is largely invisible: three quarters of the children who die from causes related to malnutrition were only mildly or moderately undernourished, showing no outward sign of their vulnerability.
Poverty, low levels of education, and poor access to health services are major contributors to childhood malnutrition, a complex issue that requires tackling on a wide number of fronts. To name only a few:
Ensuring food security for poor households, both enough food and the right kinds of food
Educating families to understand the special nutritional needs of young children, notably the value of breastfeeding and the importance of introducing suitable complementary foods at the right age
Protecting children from infections, by such measures as immunization against common childhood diseases and provision of safe water and sanitation;
Ensuring that children receive quality care when they fall ill
Shielding them from the micronutrient deficiencies that can bring death and disability, especially iodine, iron and vitamin A deficiencies
Paying special attention to the nutritional needs of girls and women, since chronically undernourished women tend to bear low-birth weight babies and so perpetuate the vicious cycle of under nutrition into the next generation
The underlying causes of under nutrition vary across regions. In many Asian countries poverty, the low status of women, poor care during pregnancy, high rates of low birth weight, high population densities, unfavorable child caring practices, and poor access to health care are underlying causes. In Sub-Saharan Africa, extreme poverty, inadequate caring practices for children, low levels of education and poor access to health services are among the major factors causing under nutrition. Conflicts and natural disasters in many countries have further exacerbated the situation. The increase in the number of undernourished children in Africa also reflects a rapid rate of population growth. In many countries in Africa, the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS, particularly in the second half of the decade, have reversed some of the gains made in the decade's early years.

Current status

 

More than one-quarter (27%) of all under fives in the developing world are underweight. This accounts for about 146 million underweight children in developing countries. Of these 146 million underweight children, nearly three-quarters (73%) live in just 10 countries.
Significant variation in underweight prevalence exists among children under five of the developing world. The highest levels of underweight prevalence are found in South Asia, where almost half (46%) of all children under five are underweight. In Sub-Saharan Africa more than one-quarter (28%) of all children under five are underweight. The lowest levels are found in Latin America and the Caribbean (7%) and CEE/CIS (5%).
South Asia has staggeringly high levels of underweight prevalence with nearly half (46%) of all children under five in the region underweight. Three countries in this region drive these high levels - India, Bangladesh and Pakistan - which alone account for half the world's total underweight children. Note that these three countries are home to just 29% of the developing world's under-five population.
In Sub-Saharan Africa more than one-quarter (28%) of children under five are underweight. Nigeria and Ethiopia alone account for more than one-third (37%) of all underweight children in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Ethiopia, nearly half (47%) of all children are underweight.

 

 

Disparities


Large disparities exist for underweight prevalence among urban and rural children in the developing world. On average, underweight prevalence among children in rural areas is almost double that of children in urban areas in the developing world. In Sub-Saharan Africa, almost one-third (31%) of all rural children are underweight. And rural children in East Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean are more than twice as likely to be underweight as their urban counterparts.
Significant disparities exist between rich and poor children, and on average, poor children are twice as likely to be underweight as rich children. The greatest disparities between rich and poor are found in Latin America and the Caribbean, where children in the poorest quintile are more than three and a half times more likely to be undernourished as children from the richest. The smallest disparities are found in East Asia and the Pacific, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa and CEE/CIS

Little difference in underweight prevalence exists between boys and girls. Boys and girls have a similar underweight prevalence in every region except South Asia. In fact, in 4 of 7 regions boys are slightly more likely to be malnourished than girls, although the differences are not statistically significant.

 
 

 

 

 

 

n Nutrition

n Malnutrition

n Metabolism

n The 5 Food Groups

n Vitamins

n Good Fats Vs Bad Fats

n Carbohydrates

n Dietary Guidelines

n Minerals

n Height and Weight Charts

n Glossary of Terms

n Contact Us

n Home

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