Malnutrition kills over 3 million toddlers a year: UN

June 12, 2014

More than three million children under the age of five die annually of malnutrition, the UN food agency and World Health Organisation said on Thursday, urging governments to tackle the problem.

"Malnutrition is responsible for about half of all under five years of age, causing over three million deaths every year," the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said.

Some 162 million children are left stunted by chronic and 99 million children are underweight across the world, it added.

Since the first international conference on nutrition in 1992, "important advances in the fight against hunger and malnutrition have been made, but this progress has been insufficient and uneven," FAO head Jose Graziano da Silva said.

There has only been a 17 percent reduction in undernourishment since the early 1990s, leaving over 840 million people still chronically undernourished.

The FAO and WHO urged governments to "make stronger commitments... to ensure healthier diets for all" at an international conference on nutrition to be held in Rome in November.

They warned that various forms of malnutrition often overlap and can coexist within the same country and even within the same household.

"Around 160 million children under five are stunted or chronically malnourished, while over two billion people suffer one or more micronutrient deficiencies," they said in a statement.

"At the same time, another half billion are obese."

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the aim of the upcoming conference was to get governments to ask themselves "why is it that severe undernutrition and obesity can exist side by side in the same country and in the same community?"

She also called for more research into the health and environmental implications of "the rapid rise in the demand for meat and other animal products that coincides with rising income levels."

Efforts to improve food and nutrition security continue to be hampered by low political commitment and weak institutional arrangements, the agencies said.

Explore further: Food waste, diets in focus on UN World Food Day

Related Stories

Food waste, diets in focus on UN World Food Day

October 16, 2013
The United Nations marked World Food Day on Wednesday, warning against food waste as 842 million people go hungry and stressing the importance of healthy diets amid rising obesity.

Malnutrition 'puts 450 million children at risk of stunting'

February 15, 2012
About 450 million children will be physically and mentally stunted over the next 15 years unless the world takes action to tackle malnutrition, a new report from Save the Children warned Wednesday.

50,000 children could die in months in S.Sudan: UNICEF

April 11, 2014
Conflict in South Sudan has triggered a serious risk of famine that will kill up to 50,000 children within months if immediate action is not taken, the UN warned on Friday.

N. Korea produces more food, but malnutrition persists: UN

November 29, 2013
North Korea has increased food production for a third straight year, but malnutrition remains widespread, UN agencies say, voicing particular concern over stunting in children.

Severe hunger can have lasting effects for gut health, study finds

June 4, 2014
Nutrition therapy has saved the lives of millions of malnourished infants, but may not restore an imbalance in gut bacteria that is key to long-term health and vitality, researchers said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

High-fat diet in pregnancy can cause mental health problems in offspring

July 21, 2017
A high-fat diet not only creates health problems for expectant mothers, but new research in an animal model suggests it alters the development of the brain and endocrine system of their offspring and has a long-term impact ...

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.