Sound nutrition can change children's lives, improve their physical and mental development, protect their health and lay a firm foundation for future productivity. The State of the World's Children 1998, focuses on the more than 200 million children under the age of five who are affected by malnutrition every day. Arising from the combined onslaught of poverty and preventable diseases, malnutrition represents a potent threat to the survival and development of children, as well as their families and communities. The report examines three key factors that determine whether a child will thrive and develop: access to food; access to basic health services; and caring practices. It explores some of the low-cost measures that can be taken to improve children's quality of life, and puts forward a plan of action to alleviate some of the worst effects of child malnutrition.