Micronutrient deficiency does not always manifest itself in underweight.
Hidden hunger can also occur as a result of malnutrition if the energy demand of the organism is sufficiently or even excessively covered by proteins, carbohydrates and fats, while vital micronutrients are missing. Thus, obesity is more often than not a hidden sign of malnutrition.
Experts have long been appealing for the development of appropriate prevention programs in order to be able to limit the malnutrition epidemic worldwide.
Both national and international approaches are missing, owing among other things to the fact that for decades the focus of health policy and international aid for the poorer regions had been on the fight against infection diseases and the undernourishment also associated with them. In most regions of the earth, however, which saw extreme undernourishment for decades, nourishment and living habits change along with increasing material prosperity.
A consequence of this so-called nutrition transition is the increasing occurrence of obesity. The risk of dying of non-communicable diseases as a result of obesity is particularly high in persons who experienced extreme food shortage during early childhood. The co-existence of undernourishment and obesity is becoming more and more a double burden. Coping with that double burden will require the development of new ideas.
A possible solution approach might be the stewardship principle that combines the interests of all those responsible in their countries for resources through their own efforts.
In view of the fact that obesity is seen as an external symbol of fast attainment of prosperity and success, the realisation of this idea cannot be expected soon, though.
B.F. Sunguya et al. Strong nutrition governance is a key to addressing nutrition transition in low and middle-income countries: review of countries’ nutrition policies. Nutrition Journal 2014, 13: 65 doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-13-65