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One in three people malnourished globally: IFPRI


London: One in every three people globally is malnourished, and the problem exists in every country, a report said. Yet, the strategies or policy interventions available to resolve it are not being implemented due to lack of money, skills, or political pressure, according to the Global Nutrition Report by think-tank International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

“Nutrition can be a driver of change or a barrier to progress. There are actions leaders of every country should be taking to end malnutrition in all its forms,” it said.

“When one in three of us is held back, we as families, communities, and nations cannot move forward,” the report’s lead author and senior research fellow at IFPRI, Lawrence Haddad said in a statement.

Noting that people cannot get anywhere near their full potential without first overcoming malnutrition, Haddad said, “This not only jeopardizes the lives of those who are malnourished, but also affects the larger framework for economic growth and sustainable development.”

According to the report, the countries that are committed to reducing malnutrition have the capability to do so.

“Investing in improved nutrition can have economic returns that outpace the US stock market in recent decades. Investing USD 1 can yield up to USD 16 in economic benefits,” it said.

The timing of the report is particularly important as United Nations member states convene to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals later this month.

Observing that childhood stunting and wasting remain serious problems, the report said that more than 160 million children worldwide under five years of age are too short for their age (stunted), while more than 50 million do not weigh enough for their height (wasted).

“Although countries are increasingly meeting goals for combating stunting and wasting, adult obesity — another form of malnutrition — is growing. The prevalence of obesity rose in every single country between 2010 and 2014, and one in 12 adults worldwide now has Type 2 diabetes,” it added.

Stating that climate change is complicating global efforts to end malnutrition, the report said that even small and seasonal fluctuations in climate can have big impact on food availability and disease patterns. These, in turn, dramatically affect children’s survival and development.

“This means, for example, that babies born in India in November and December are taller on average at 3 years of age than those born in April through September. In a world where many are not eating enough and others are eating too much, food systems also need attention,” it said.

“Too often people think of malnutrition as just a problem of hungry kids in the poorest countries, but this report shows that malnutrition has many forms and affects all countries, rich and poor alike,” said Corinna Hawkes, co-author of the report.

The co-existence of nutritional problems associated with extreme deprivation and obesity is the real face of malnutrition, Hawkes added.

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