200 million Kids under 5 eat too little or too much

19 Octobre, 2019, 12:38 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • The UNICEF report warns that poor eating and feeding practices start from the earliest days of a child's life

The U.N. children's agency says one-third of children worldwide under age 5 - about 200 million youngsters - are either undernourished or overweight, undermining their full potential to grow and develop. Unicef says numerous problems which arise from poor nutrition are hidden because they include anaemia, reduce intelligence and poor sight or hearing defects.

"Despite all the technological, cultural and social advances of the last few decades, we have lost sight of this most basic fact: If children eat poorly, they live poorly", UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said.

It describes a triple burden of malnutrition, namely undernutrition, hidden hunger caused by a lack of essential nutrients, and overweight among children under the age of five.

Contrary to common belief, most wasted children were concentrated in Asia rather than in countries facing emergencies. The report says that around the world 700 million children under the age of five are either undernourished or overweight and face lifelong health problems as a outcome of both conditions. Speaking at the event, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said malnutrition among Vietnamese, particularly children, remains at a high level compared to other nations in the region. As children grow older, UNICEF says, "their exposure to unhealthy food becomes alarming". How is it possible that overweight and obesity in children and young people are continuing to rise, and increasingly among the poor?

UNICEF in a statement released in Abuja, on Wednesday, said the report confirmed that as children transit to soft or solid foods around the six month mark, too many are introduced to the wrong kind of diet.

It warns that problems start at birth, with only 42% of children under six months of age exclusively breastfed.

The sale of breastmilk substitutes worldwide rose by 41% from 2008-2013, and by 72% in upper-middle-income countries such as Brazil, China and Turkey.

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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.

The influence of high-calorie, low-nutrient junk food outlets dominating the retail food environment has been highlighted in the report, entitled The State of the World's Children 2019. It is not about getting enough to eat; it is above all getting them the right food to eat.

Unicef says it wants to see "proven legislation", such as sugar taxes, to reduce demand for unhealthy foods, as well as incentivising food suppliers to provide healthy, affordable foods. It emphasizes that ensuring each child has access to a healthy diet should be a political priority.

Scale up nutrition by protecting water and sanitation systems.

Collecting, analyzing and using good-quality data and evidence to guide action and track progress.

"We are losing ground in the fight for healthy diets", she said. 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.

UNICEF urgently appealed to governments, donors, parents, families, businesses and the private sector to address the issue by implementing the following policies.

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