Data on the Global Distribution of Stunting Among Children Worldwide

Data on the Global Distribution of Stunting Among Children Worldwide

An inter-agency team of UNICEF, WHO and World Bank collects data on the immediate consequences of malnutrition and childhood obesity worldwide. Chronic micronutrient deficiency leads to stunting, the physical and mental underdevelopment of children measured by age. These impairments, which can only rarely be reversed later in life, are mainly caused by the lack of micronutrients such as iron, iodine, zinc, vitamin A and folic acid during the first 1,000 days of life. A recent publication on child growth and malnutrition (1) provides key figures on the regional distribution of stunting among children under 5 years of age:

  • Worldwide 22.9 % (154.8 million) children under the age of five were stunted in 2016. 59 million of them live in Africa and 87 million in Asia.
  • Most children with growth retardations are registered in Oceania (38.3%), followed by East Africa (36.7 %), South Asia (34.1 %), Central Asia (32.5 %) and West Africa (31.4 %)
  • Africa is the only region in the world besides Oceania where the absolute numbers of children affected by stunting have increased since the turn of the millennium. In Africa, for example, there were around 50 million stunted children in 2000, 16 years later this number amounts to 59 million. Especially in West Africa, the number of those affected is increasing, for example by about four million children since the turn of the millennium. In Oceania, with 500,000 children in 2016, 100,000 more were affected in physical and mental growth than in 2000.


Read and see more:

  1. Unicef. WHO. The World Bank Group. Joint child malnutrition estimates – Levels and trends. Key findings of the 2017 edition, available via

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