Young and wasted


The 2018 Global Nu­tri­tion Re­port points to the link be­tween in­come and mal­nu­tri­tion but falls short of ex­am­in­ing crit­i­cal fac­tors such as en­hanced pub­lic spend­ing that de­ter­mine the lev­els of hunger and


IN 2017, fewer than one in five chil­dren, six to 24 months of age, in the world ate a min­i­mally ac­cepted diet. More than half of them in the same age group did not get the rec­om­mended num­ber of meals, and only two-thirds of the in­fants from six to eight months ate any solid food at all. In short, the bur­den of mal­nu­tri­tion, glob­ally, was very high. South Asia was home to 38.9 per cent of the world’s stunted chil­dren, while In­dia, Nige­ria and Pak­istan ac­counted for half of all the stunted chil­dren. In­dia was also home to 25.5 mil­lion “wasted” (low weight for height) chil­dren. In­dia, Nige­ria and In­done­sia were home to the largest num­ber of chil­dren in the “wasted” cat­e­gory. These and other dis­mal statis­tics are part of the 2018 Global Nu­tri­tion Re­port, the out­come of a mul­ti­stake­holder ini­tia­tive started in 2013.

At the other end of the spec­trum, the re­port says, there was an ex­po­nen­tial growth in in­fant for­mula sales; glob­ally, it went up from 7.1 kilo­grams an in­fant in 2005 to 11 kg an in­fant in 2017, mark­ing a 54.9 per cent in­crease. The growth in sales of for­mula milk food in the fol­low-up months of in­fancy, in­clud­ing the tod­dler stage, was also high and hap­pened de­spite the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s (WHO) po­si­tion that such food was un­nec­es­sary and should not sup­plant breast milk.

The re­port says that a faulty diet com­po­si­tion was one of the ma­jor rea­sons for the high preva­lence of mal­nu­tri­tion and that 37.8 mil­lion chil­dren af­fected by stunt­ing were in low-in­come coun­tries where the daily av­er­age in­come was less than $2.80 per per­son a day. An­other 101.1 mil­lion stunted chil­dren be­longed to coun­tries where in­comes were less than $11 per per­son a day. Ru­ral ar­eas con­trib­uted a higher pro­por­tion of stunted and wasted chil­dren than ur­ban ar­eas.

The dis­course on nu­tri­tion had picked up since 2014 fol­low­ing the Sec­ond In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence on Nu­tri­tion. The fol­low­ing year marked the dec­la­ra­tion of the 201625 pe­riod as United Na­tions Decade of Ac­tion on Nu­tri­tion in or­der to

AT NAGADA VIL­LAGE in Ja­jpur dis­trict of Odisha. In­dia is home to 25.5 mil­lion “wasted” (low weight for height) chil­dren in the world.

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