Since last year, I have taken a deeper interest in malnutrition and food poverty both here in the UK and across the world. One thing I noticed was that the image of malnutrition is often linked to regions in Africa and Asia. While the issues there are not unimportant, people are going hungry in all parts of the world.
There are probably people suffering from malnutrition right now who do not realise it. Food poverty is a growing issue both in developing and developed parts of the world. Anywhere there is an imbalance of wealth, there will be some people who are worse off than others.
Another aspect of malnutrition is those who are overweight or obese due to poor diets. This can eventually lead to a range of diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
According to World Hunger’s ‘Hunger Notes‘:
- Overall, 5.6 million children under age five died in 2016, nearly 15,000 daily
- Approximately 3.1 million children die from undernutrition each year 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world
- Globally, about 151 million under-five-year-olds were estimated to be stunted in 2013. (UNICEF, WHO and The World Bank, 2018
- Globally, 99 million under-five-year-olds were underweight in 2013, most of whom lived in Asia and Africa (Krasevec et al., 2014).
Some common terms (from the World Health Organization)
Malnutrition: deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients
Undernutrition: insufficient intake of energy and nutrients to meet an individual’s needs to maintain good health.
Stunted: when someone has a low height for their age
Wasting: when someone has a low weight for their age
Micronutrient deficiencies: the insufficient amount of important vitamins and nutrients
Overweight and obesity:
- the abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.
- overweight is a BMI greater than or equal to 25; and
- obesity is a BMI greater than or equal to 30.
I believe everyone has a right to have access to nutritious, healthy food and that no one should go hungry. With the research and technological advances of today, health services, scientists and the general public should be able to come together to combat the issue.