The latest global report shows that every country in the world is affected by malnutrition. While steps are being taken to address the issue, the progress has generally been slow in most countries.

Global Nutrition Report

The fifth edition of the Global Nutrition Report has just been released, and it highlights the malnutrition problem that is still going on across the globe despite various efforts against it. Evidently, 88 percent of the 141 countries analyzed experience one form of malnutrition, with 29 percent experiencing high levels of all the three forms.

Among children, 3.62 percent (15.95 million) under five years old are both stunted and wasted, while 1.87 percent (8.23 million) of the same age group are both stunted and overweight. All in all, across all regions of the world, 150.8 million children under five years old are stunted, 50.5 million are wasted, and 38.3 million children are overweight. Twenty million newborn babies are also born with low birth weight.

Stunting, Wasting, And Obesity

Stunting is a growth failure that develops over time due to having limited access to food, health, and care, while wasting is characterized by a rapid deterioration in a short amount of time, likely due to food shortages or disease. On the other hand, overweight or obesity happens as a result of the abnormal or excessive accumulation of fat. One may be overweight or obese and at the same time deficient in various vitamins and minerals.

Among adults, obesity and being overweight was found to be more prevalent among women than men, but diabetes and raised blood pressure were found to be more common in men.

Slow Progress In Global Malnutrition Problem

There are already significant steps that are being made to fight malnutrition, but the 2018 analysis revealed that only 94 of the 194 countries are on track for at least one of the nine nutrition targets. Further, only five countries are working on four out of the nine targets, which is the most that any of the countries is on track for.

It was also found that none of the countries are working on meeting the nine targets or to achieve the adult obesity target or the anemia target. Of the countries, only 26 are working on the target for diabetes in women.

Global malnutrition isn’t just a burden to the health of the world’s population but also to the economy. Obesity alone costs billions of dollars every year, while all forms of malnutrition costs up to $3.5 trillion every year. As such, experts are calling on the global community to work harder in the fight against global malnutrition.

“While malnutrition is holding back human development everywhere, costing billions of dollars a year, we are now in a position to fight it. From policies such as sugar taxes, to new data that enables us to understand what people are eating and how we can best target interventions, the global community now has the recipes that work,” said report co-chair and Johns Hopkins University professor, Jessica Fanzo, PhD.

NEXT