43% Nepali children below five years are malnourished

Henrietta Strickland
October 19, 2019

Around 200 million children under-five are either undernourished or overweight, while one-in-three globally - and nearly two-thirds of children between the fragile ages of six months to two years - are not fed food that nurtures proper development, The State of the World's Children 2019: Children, food and nutrition, found.

Deficiency in vitamins and other essential nutrients arising from unhealthy diets is the main risk factor for several diseases among Indian children, a Unicef report said.

The recently released Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey in India shows that 35 per cent of children under five are stunted, 17 per cent are wasted and 33 per cent are underweight.

Contrary to common belief, most wasted children were concentrated in Asia rather than in countries facing emergencies. One in two children among 1.3 million children suffer from deficiencies of essential vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin A and iron and approximately 36,000 children are overweight or obese.

States providing poor quality of blended take home rations, high on sugar and containing meagre proteins, is adding to India's malnutrition problem, according to the Unicef and World Food Programme who have now urged the Centre to form guidelines to monitor contents of such food.

UNICEF says this is driven largely by "inappropriate marketing and advertising", the abundance of ultra-processed foods in cities but also in remote areas, and increasing access to fast food and highly sweetened beverages.

"Although breastfeeding has been proven capable of saving lives, only 27 percent of Nigerian children under six months of age are exclusively breastfed and an increasing number of children are fed infant formula", it said.

Fore said countless kids eat an unhealthy diet since they do not have a decision. Globally, 44% of children aged six to 23 months are not fed fruit or vegetables, and 59% don't eat eggs, dairy, fish or meat, Unicef said.

Children living in poverty, bear the greatest burden of all forms of malnutrition, with poorer families more inclined to purchase lower-quality, less costly food options.

A similar report has been documented by UNICEF concerning food.

A single degree Celsius of warming since the late-19th century has amplified droughts responsible for more than 80 percent of damage and losses in agriculture. It points out that nutrition is not about getting children food to eat but also the right food.

It said the malnutrition level in the country should be tackled and appealed to government, private sector, donors, parents, families and businesses to help children grow healthy.

UNICEF says "financial incentives" should reward the increase of healthy and affordable foods.

"Mobilising supportive systems including health, water and sanitation, education and social protection to scale up nutrition results for all children", UNICEF said.

- Collecting, analyzing and utilizing high-quality data and evidence to support action and monitor progress.

"We are losing ground in the fight for healthy diets", said Fore. This is a huge challenge for society in an age of mass commercialism but one that must be met if we are to bring down our own rate of diabetes, suffered by one in every 10 Pakistanis, and other diseases directly related to nutrition.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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