Kolkata, Feb 17 : Malnutrition is a universal problem that has many forms, it affects most of the world’s population at some point in their lifecycle, from infancy to old age.
No country is untouched. It affects all geographies, all age groups, rich people and poor people, and all sexes. It is a truly universal problem.
Malnutrition manifests itself in many ways, all of them distinctive, but all of them overlapping in countries, communities, households and people. While anyone can experience malnutrition, people who are particularly vulnerable include young children, adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women, older people, people who are ill or immuno-compromised, indigenous people and people in poverty.
Groups migrating or displaced due to conflicts, droughts, floods and other natural disasters, famines or land tenure issues are also at acute risk and vulnerable to malnutrition.
Collectively, malnutrition is responsible for more ill health than any other cause – good health is not possible without good nutrition. All forms of malnutrition are associated with various forms of ill health and higher levels of mortality.
Undernutrition explains around 45 per cent of deaths among children under five, mainly in low and middle-income countries. The health consequences of overweight and obesity contribute to an estimated 4 million deaths (7.1 per cent of all deaths) and 120 million healthy years of life lost (disability-adjusted life years or DALYs) across the global population (4.9 per cent of all DALYs among adults).
Malnutrition is also a social and economic problem, holding back development across the world with unacceptable human consequences.
Malnutrition costs billions of dollars a year and imposes high human capital costs – direct and indirect – on individuals, families and nations. Estimates suggest that malnutrition in all its forms could cost society up to US$3.5 trillion per year, with overweight and obesity alone costing US$500 billion per year. (UNI)