Currently every ninth person on earth is chronically undernourished. In total 815 million people (the latest data refer to 2016) are affected, which is 38 million more than in 2015. Thereby Asia accounts for 520 million (11.7 % of the total population) and Africa for 243 million people (20 %, eastern Africa 33.9 %).
Climate change, and in particular the continuing violence in crisis regions, as well as rising food prices have significantly contributed to increasing the number of starving people. 489 million of the 815 million people who are undernourished live in conflict areas. This is stated in the UN report The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 jointly published on 15 September 2017 of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UNICEF Children’s Fund.
The report reviewed the extent to which the Sustainable Development Goals (2016-2030) adopted by the UN member states in 2015 are being accomplished so far. In addition to the global fight against poverty, the relief of hunger and malnutrition in children has top priority. This report also makes a clear reference to the increasing coexistence of malnutrition and obesity, which is often referred to as “double burden of malnutrition”. More and more adults, but also children are overweight and at the same time affected by a lack of micronutrients. The report takes into account six indicators of world nutrition status: the ratio of body length to age (stunting) and to body weight (wasting or overweight) in under five-year-olds, obesity in adults, anemia in women of childbearing age, and the frequency of breastfeeding. The most recent figures are summarized below, stating the respective year (2):
- 154.8 million children (2016) under the age of five (= 22.9 %) are too small for their age (stunted, growth retardation).
- 51.7 million children (2016) under the age of five (= 7.7 %) weigh are too little (wasted) for their size. In contrast, 40.6 million children (2016) under the age of five (= 6 %) are overweight.
- 640.9 million adults (= 12. 8%) are obese (2014).
- 613.2 million women of childbearing age (= 32.8 %) suffer from anemia (2016).
- 60.3 million babies (= 43.9 %) are breastfed for at least 6 months (2015).
The rates of stunting and wasting are declining, although not fast enough. However overweight is steadily increasing. Anemia among women aged 15 to 49 is increasing in Asia and less frequent in Africa, but remain high in both continents. The willingness for breastfeeding grows continuously worldwide. All the indicators described are decisively influenced by a balanced supply of micronutrients or micronutrient deficiencies respectively.
Read and see more
- FAO, WHO and UNICEF. How close are we to #ZeroHunger? The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017, available via: http://www.fao.org/3/a-I7695e.pdf
- More information and links: http://www.fao.org/state-of-food-security-nutrition/en/. The description of the various indicators of malnutrition follows the information provided by (2).
- UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Group. Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates. Levels and Trends. 2017 Edition, available via: http://www.who.int/nutgrowthdb/estimates/en/
Interactive graphics allow to see trends in individual countries at a glance: http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.wrapper.nutrition-2016?lang=en