Every country in the world is falling short of malnutrition targets, warns new report

Every country in the world is falling short of malnutrition targets, warns new report

The Global Humanitarian Assistance Programme has released its 2018 Global Nutrition Report which reveals alarmingly high levels of malnutrition in every country of the world.

The fifth edition of the report offers an overview of the progress made in addressing malnutrition and highlights potential solutions to tackle it.

The report’s findings are striking, noting the universality of malnutrition. Around the world a third of reproductive age women suffering from anaemia and 20 million underweight babies being born each year.

Malnutrition is the largest cause of ill-health around the world and has the greatest effect on children, with many suffering multiple burdens: 150.8 million under 5’s are stunted and 50.5 million are wasted.

The report also identifies obesity as a significant issue; 38.3 million children are overweight and 39% of adults are classified as obese or overweight.

In all its forms, it is estimated that that malnutrition costs US$3.5 trillion each year, $500 billion of which is caused by obesity and overweight.

Corinna Hawkes, co-chair of the Report and Director of the Centre for Food Policy, commented:

“The figures call for immediate action. Malnutrition is responsible for more ill-health than any other cause. The health consequences of overweight and obesity contribute to an estimated four million deaths, while undernutrition explains around 45% of deaths among children under five. The uncomfortable question is not so much “why are things so bad?” but “why are things not better when we know so much more than before?” Progress to date is simply not good enough.”

However, large progress has been made in addressing malnutrition. Globally, stunting in children has declined from 32.6% in 2000 to 22.2% in 2017 and the number of underweight females as fallen from 11.6% to 9.7%.

The report has also tracked progress against nine malnutrition targets. Of 194 countries, only 94 are on track to achieve at least one of these target.

Alarmingly, no country is on course to meet all nine targets and only five countries are on track to meet four targets, the most any country is on track for.

In addition, no country is on track to achieve the adult obesity target or the anaemia target.

The report calls for greater action to be taken to address malnutrition and urges five key areas for action:

  • Breaking down silos to tackle malnutrition in all forms
  • Prioritising and investing in data
  • Scaling up and diversifying funding for nutrition programmes
  • Making healthy foods affordable across the globe
  • Implementing more ambitious commitments

David Beasley, Executive Director, World Food Programme, noted:

“The information in the Global Nutrition Report goes far beyond facts and figures. What is really behind these tables and graphs are stories of potential: the potential of more babies seeing their first birthdays, of children achieving their potential in school, and of adults leading healthy and productive lives – all on the foundation of good nutrition. The information collected, analysed and shared in the Global Nutrition Report is never an end in itself, but a means that allows us to save lives, change lives and ensure that nobody is left behind.”


AIDF Global Summit will return to Washington D.C., USA in September 2019.

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Image credit: FAO

Tags: Malnutrition

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