Malnutrition takes the lives and futures of millions of children. It stunts their growth and puts them at higher risk for diseases, diminishing their capacity to fully function.
In 2018, an estimated 149 million children under the age of five were affected by stunting, a form of malnutrition that can have irreversible physical and cognitive damage. Millions more were affected by wasting (low weight-for-height) and other forms of malnutrition, and this is contributing to around 45 percent of deaths among children under five, globally.
Insufficient protein, energy and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in a child’s diet are among the factors that lead to such conditions. In humanitarian crises and in poor communities, inadequate health services and unsafe water and sanitation can aggravate these factors as infectious diseases exacerbate the deficiencies.
The scope of the challenge is wide. In addition to children, adolescents and women are at particular risk of malnutrition, and micronutrient deficiencies in women have consequences for the children they bear. It takes the collective effort of communities to prevent and treat malnutrition, and we can do this together by improving access to nutrition support, including appropriate products and feeding practices.