Dear colleagues and friends,
UNICEF works to end child malnutrition in all its forms. In this issue of UNICEF WINS, I am glad to share The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018. This is the second year in which UNICEF and WHO join efforts with FAO, IFAD and WFP to expand the focus of the State of Food Insecurity (SOFI) report to include Nutrition.
The 2018 SOFI provides new evidence that the prevalence and number of people affected by hunger has changed in trajectory recently; the notable decline that occurred between 2005 and 2014 is no longer apparent, as indicated by the fact that hunger has been on the rise over the last few years. The report shows that in 2017, hunger affected 821 million people or 11% of the global population. The report also reminds us that the world is home to 151 million stunted children while wasting continues to threaten the lives of 51 million under-fives.
Inequity remains an issue of great concern. The report’s deep dive on child wasting shows that the prevalence of wasting is 40 per cent higher among children from the poorest households. The gap is largest in Eastern Africa, where the prevalence of wasting is nearly double among children from the poorest families.
Global food security cannot be achieved without improving the diets of young children. UNICEF’s latest data indicate that in low- and middle-income countries:
- Only 1 in 2 children aged 6-23 months are fed the minimum number of meals a day for their age (feeding frequency);
- Only 1 in 4 children are fed foods from the minimum number of food groups (diet diversity);
- Only 1 in 6 children are fed diets that meet the minimum adequacy (frequency and diversity) for healthy growth and development.
The evidence is clear, for far too many children in the world, food insecurity starts very early in life, at a time when essential nutrients are vital for physical growth and brain development. UNICEF calls on governments, their development partners and the private sector to put in place the policies, strategies, and programmes needed to deliver nutritious, safe, affordable and sustainable diets to all children, everywhere.
Víctor M. Aguayo, PhD, MPH
Associate Director, Programme Division
Chief, Nutrition Programme | UNICEF New York