Human Health and Nutrition: Facts on Malnutrition

29 September 2009
&copy; V. Mouchkin / IAEA<p>Malnutrition has been responsible, directly or indirectly, for 60% of the 10.9 million deaths annually among children under five. </p><p>Well above two thirds of these deaths occur during the first year of life.</p>&copy; C. Fjeld / IAEA<p>A key indicator of chronic malnutrition is stunting — when children are too short for their age group according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) child growth standards. </p><p>About 178 million children globally are stunted, resulting from not enough food, a vitamin- and mineral-poor diet, and disease. </p><p>As growth slows down, brain development lags and stunted children learn poorly.</p>&copy; V. Mouchkin / IAEA<p>Hidden hunger is a lack of essential vitamins and minerals in the diet, which are vital to boost immunity and healthy development.</p><p>The major health consequences include poor pregnancy outcome, impaired physical and cognitive development, increased risk of death in children and reduced work productivity in adults.</p>&copy; V. Mouchkin / IAEA<p>Iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world.</p><p>As well as affecting a large number of children and women in developing countries, it is the only nutrient deficiency that is widespread in industralized countries. </p><p>The numbers are staggering: 2 billion people — over 30% of the world’s population — are anaemic, many due to iron deficiency.</p><p>In developing countries every second pregnant woman and about 40% of preschool children are estimated to be anaemic.</p>&copy; C. Fjeld / IAEA<p>An estimated 250 000 to 500 000 vitamin A-deficient children become blind every year, half of them dying within 12 months of losing their sight.</p><p>Even where local food supplies are abundant, people's nutritional needs may not be met.</p>&copy; Norsk Hydro<p>Iodine deficiency is the world’s most prevalent, yet easily preventable, cause of brain damage.</p><p>About 2 billion people are affected by iodine deficiency worldwide.</p><p>The addition of a small, constant amount of iodine to the salt that people consume daily is all that is needed.</p>&copy; PhotoDisk<p>In 1995, there were an estimated 200 million obese adults worldwide and another 18 million under 5 years old who are classified as overweight.</p><p>As of 2000, there were more than 300 million obese people around the world. In developing countries, it is estimated that over 115 million people suffer from obesity-related problems.</p><p>In some countries, the epidemic of obesity sits alongside continuing problems of undernutrition, creating a double-burden of nutrition-related ill health among the population, including children.</p>&copy; V. Mouchkin / IAEA<p>Roughly 200 million men and women are affected by osteoporosis</p><p>Osteoporosis and associated fractures are a major cause of illness, disability and death, and are a huge medical expense. It is estimated that the annual number of hip fractures worldwide will rise from 1.7 million in 1990 to around 6.3 million by 2050. Women suffer 80% of hip fractures; their lifetime risk for osteoporotic fractures is at least 30%, and probably closer to 40%. In contrast, the risk is only 13% for men.</p>&copy; V. Mouchkin / IAEA<p>Public education is another way to improve nutritional health.</p><p>Starting in China during the Beijing Olympics, and continuing in other countries, WHO and Member States will promote “5 keys” to a healthy diet:</p>
			<ol><li>give your baby only breast milk for the first six months of life</li><li>eat a variety of foods</li><li>eat plenty of vegetables and fruits</li><li>eat moderate amounts of fat and oils</li><li>eat less salt and sugars</li></ol>&copy; IAEA
Last update: 17 October 2014