Good nutrition is fundamental to human development. Yet, poor-quality diets, insufficient care for mothers and children, lack of access to basic health services, and unsanitary, unhealthy environments challenge our world’s ability to fight malnutrition.
Malnutrition affects every country on earth. Almost one in three people on the planet experience it. Even if people get enough to eat, they will become malnourished if the food they eat does not have enough vitamins and minerals.
It’s a global problem. But together, we can raise awareness and find new solutions to tackle malnutrition.
Here are five surprising facts to help you start the conversation.
1. Malnutrition isn’t just about being too thin.
Malnutrition comes in many forms: stunting (when people are too short for their age), wasting (when people are too thin for their height), and obesity (when people are overweight). It is a global problem that effects all countries, rich and poor alike.
2. Two billion people are not getting enough nutrients from their food.
When a person is not getting enough food or the right type of food, malnutrition is just around the corner. Over two billion people on the planet do not get enough vitamins and minerals from their diet. Another 794 million do not get enough energy from what they eat.
3. Poor nutrition can have a huge impact on brain development.
The architecture of a person’s brain is formed by the time they are six years old. However, good nutrition plays a big role from the very start. If children don’t get the right food in the first two years of life, the damage done to their physical and mental growth is irreversible.
4. Nearly half of all child deaths are caused by undernutrition.
Poor nutrition causes three million child deaths each year – or 45 per cent of all deaths among children under five. That’s because poor nutrition compromises the immune system, as well as development of the mind and body.
Children who are malnourished are more vulnerable to life-threatening infectious diseases. Those who survive often face stunting and wasting, which limits their ability to learn in school and be productive as adults.
5. More than 161 million children are too short for their age.
Around the world, there are 652 million children under five years old. More than 1/4 of those kids are stunted (too short for their age). That’s more than the entire population of Bangladesh.
Studies show that stunting traps people into a lifelong cycle of poor nutrition, illness, poverty and inequity.
Did these facts surprise you? Tell us why. Send a tweet to @AKFCanada.
Read the latest report card on global nutrition and the efforts to improve it. The 2015 Global Nutrition Report examines the role of nutrition in sustainable development.