Health Care

‘Alarmingly high’ number of children malnourished worldwide: UNICEF report

One-third of kids worldwide under age - roughly 200 million kids - are undernourished or obese, undermining their whole capability to grow and grow, the United Nations children's bureau said in a report Tuesday.

"Almost 2 in 3 children between six months and two years of age are not fed food that supports their rapidly growing bodies and brains".

The Unicef report laid bare the alarming rate at which poor diets and a "failing" food system are damaging children, saying that "millions are eating too little of what they need and millions are eating too much of what they don't need: poor diets are now the main risk factor for the global burden of disease".

As kids grow older, "their exposure to unhealthy meals gets cluttered", the report states.

"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. At the same time, half of all children under five worldwide are not getting essential vitamins and nutrients, an issue UNICEF has dubbed "hidden hunger".

"The number of stunted children has declined in all continents, except in Africa, while the number of overweight children has increased in all continents, including in Africa", the report said.

UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyun Dendevnorov said that the "triple burden of under nutrition, hidden hunger, and overweight poses serious threats to child health".

Health experts on Wednesday reported that more Filipino children are not growing up healthily due to poor diet, inadequate nutrition, and defective food systems.

The report entitled "The State of World's Children 2019: Children, Food and Nutrition" states that 43 percent of children under five years are either stunted or wasted or overweight in Nepal. While only 49 percent of infants are exclusively breastfed for the first six months, most children are not introduced to appropriate foods in the initial stages.

According to the report, from 2000 to 2016, the proportion of overweight children aged from 5 to 19 rose from 1 in 10 to nearly 1 in 5.

More families have abandoned the countryside to become city dwellers, more women have joined the workforce, while also balancing motherhood, and with the crisis of climate change, biodiversity, water, air quality and soil have all been degraded.

"It is not just about getting children enough to eat, it's all about getting them the right food to eat. That is our common challenge today", she urged.

The report, however, suggested an increased investment in interventions aimed at preventing malnutrition among young children and supporting treatment when prevention fails. "It states" fiscal disincentives" on unhealthy foods helps improve children's diets.

Incentivize food suppliers to provide healthy, affordable food. "This is not a battle we can win on our own".

Building healthy food environments for children and adolescents by using proven approaches, such as accurate and easy-to-understand labelling and stronger controls on the marketing of unhealthy foods.

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