Global Health: 200 Million Starving Children

Undernutrition is a contributing factor in more than one third of all deaths in children under age five, and approximately 200 million children in this age group in the developing world suffer from stunted growth as a result of chronic maternal and childhood undernutrition, according to a UNICEF report released earlier this week.

Nutritional deficiencies during the 1,000 days from conception to the child’s second birthday are critical for development. Undernourished children can also suffer cognitive disability and a limited capacity to learn, generally suffering poor health and poverty throughout their lives.

Chronic undernutrition is often unnoticed until it is severe and these children are at risk of serious damage to their health, affecting their growth, strength, and ability to fight off illness — drastically increasing rates of heart disease and diabetes, and death rates from pneumonia or diarrhea that might otherwise been avoided.

The chances of a woman surviving pregnancy is affected by her own nutritional status. Women whose growth was stunted in childhood, or have poor nutrition when they conceived, or who don’t gain enough weight during pregnancy, tend to deliver low birthweight babies who are highly susceptible to infectious disease and death. The health of mother and child are inextricably linked.

Overall, there are more than one billion undernourished people in the world. One in six goes hungry every day. An increase of 100 million more people in 2009 versus 2008 is due largely to high food prices rather than shortages. The global economic crisis is to blame.

According to UNICEF, there is some good news.

While 90 percent of the world’s children who have stunted grown live in Africa and Asia, the rate is dropping on both continents, and reducing and even eliminating undernutrition is entirely feasible.

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months – together with nutritionally adequate foods from six months on can have a significant impact on child survival and stunting, potentially reducing the under five child mortality by 19 percent in developing countries. 

Huge strides have also been made in the delivery of cost-effective solutions to undernutrition, including micronutrients, to vulnerable populations worldwide.

Significant progress has been made in providing children with access to iodized salt and vitamin A supplements, and this has contributed to reduced infant and child mortality. 

Lack of attention to child and maternal nutrition today will result in considerably higher costs tomorrow. With more than one billion people suffering from malnutrition and hunger, international leadership and urgent action are needed. Global commitments on food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture are part of a wider international agenda that will help address the critical issues raised in this report.” – Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director

You can support UNICEF in their efforts here.

Support America’s Hungry: Take action right here on Care2 by lending your signature to these important petitions:

Fight to End Hunger: Approximately 13 million American children are at risk of hunger every day.

Hunger Hurts Hard-Working Families: American’s working poor are at risk of hunger.

Related Reading:

Societies Failing the Health Care Needs of Women Worldwide

America’s Hungry Children at Risk

U.S. Mayors Report: Working Families Increasingly at Risk for Hunger and Homelessness

Missouri State Legislator Davis to Hungry Kids: Let Them Eat McDonalds!



colleen p.
colleen p7 years ago

but how are their animals? their pets? I think care2 users care more about hungry animals. I'm supprised anyone published anything about people

Mervi R.
Mervi R9 years ago

Thanks for the important info.

Kel H.
Kel H9 years ago

this is a sad world we live in. lets not forget hunger affects not just foreign lands that we only read about in papers and news articles hunger and starvation is happening in our own back yards. a coworker of mine told me about her neighbor down the street who has 7 children and she has been without utilities for 3 weeks. she found this out because the lady was walking around the neighborhood asking people for candles, blankets and flashlights. whats even more disturbing is that the woman has a full time job. the economy is definitely to blame for this situation we are in worldwide. its really sad when we can help others overseas but we can barely help those next door.

Ainsley Chalmers
Ainsley Chalmers9 years ago

tha haves of this planet can feed the have-nots. yet they let them die. we need to step up to the plate and help big time. remember the guy in the bible who would not feed the starving beggar outside his gate. this rich guy ended up in torment because of his meaness. let us feed the poor and build up treasures in heaven, not on earth.

mary k.
mary k9 years ago

pro lifers do lift our fingers to help hungry children, and adults i might add. what do pro choicers do to help,I mean besides abortion?

Naoko I.
Naoko i9 years ago

The picture just reminds me of some NGOs' daycare centers and schools in slums, in India. Kids were orphans, or of mothers who're working 20 hours a day at construction sites, etc.
Those NGOs are working hard to help them (kids and families) with additional foods and education, but always facing budget problems.
I cried for them and still cry.

Jill J.
Jill J9 years ago

The so-called "pro-lifers" will kill to keep the fetus, but won't lift a finger to help the hungry child!....What is wrong with this picture?....Women's health is vital, in feeding themselves and their children...Thank you for this article.

mary k.
mary k9 years ago

I think the pro choicers should step up to the plate, stop whining about the pro lifers and practice what they preach.

Barbara V.
Barbara V9 years ago

Ronald N: That was so beautifully said that I had to comment on it and thank you. I was angry before because someone once said that this world actually has enough food in it to feed all nations past capacity!! Yet, that is all tied up in political and corporate control. So people starve. I cannot fathom such a thing--it's beyond my comprehension that corporations have the means and the power to help, and don't.

Ronald N.
Ronald N9 years ago

American directives have leaned towards the corporate elective. That is why they have controlled the food systems. That is 50% of food is controlled by corporations. As far as food reaching the poor, organizations like UNICEF know that it's becoming a losing battle to feed the hungry. It is so sad, especially when there was a time when subsidized farms had a surplus that was sent to these developing countries that relied upon these cheaper sources. As food prices are determined by market prices, doubling of these commodities have made it impossible for these poor countries to afford these commodities. I think, the restoration of farms in these impoverished countries to self serve themselves with non-GMO seeds. A management to restore their cultural food sources or substitutes and land management for families in tools and resources to learn these methods. However there are major problems with drought in many of these areas and the lands are unforgiving. I think the wrong of the neo-liberal system that has shifted the cultural base toward profitization to the extremes has to be remedied, but the system in itself is not foolproof. It is based not upon non-sustainable practices where profitization is favored over organic and sustainable systems.

Food aid is not the answer, but helping these nations to help themselves is the answer. Still, as America seems to be a land of plenty, of all the western nations, we are at the bottom when it comes to children's health!