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Malnutrition occurs when one does not receive adequate nutrients from diet causing damage to the
vital organs and functions of the body. Lack of food is the major cause of malnutrition in the poorer
and developing countries. But, in developed countries the cause may be varied. Like, those with a
high calorie diet deficient in vital vitamins and minerals are also considered malnourished. This
includes the obese and the overweight
The causes of malnutrition include lack of food, difficulty in eating due to painful teeth or
other painful lesions of the mouth. Those with dysphasia, are also at risk of malnutrition, loss
of appetite Those with a limited knowledge about nutrition tend to follow an unhealthy diet
with not enough nutrients, vitamins and minerals and are at risk of malnutrition, Elderly
living alone, disabled persons living alone or young students living on their own often have
difficulty cooking healthy balanced meals for themselves and may be at risk of malnutrition.
In this abstract, I am going to emphasize on the quick remedies to reduce this phenomenal
and the best practices to follow for healthy and safety diet like; Encourage healthier food
choices, snacking on healthy foods is a good way to get extra nutrients and calories between
meals, Making food taste good again, Considering adding supplements to your loved one's
diet, Encouraging exercise.
David Ogol is a laboratory Analyst-food testing and analysis having been a quality controller
with Coca Cola Beverages Africa and an internal quality management system.
This article reviews four ways to reduce malnutrition. As a vital part of development, the
article focuses on different ways to make our planet more food secure. The four ways are:
scaling up direct investments when there is success; prioritising the first 1000 day window of
a child’s existence; developing food systems that can sustain healthy and nutritious diets and
creating coordination across government sectors such as health, education etc. Reducing
malnutrition through these methods could show achievable results in promoting
Tackling undernutrition is, as the full extent of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies
becomes apparent, critical for human wellbeing and development. In the past we have tended
to focus, with limited success, on ensuring people have enough to eat, on making the world
“food secure” and on fighting hunger but now we are beginning to understand that if we are
to lead healthy, productive lives, it is also about having enough to eat of the right mix of
nutrients. And unlike hunger, often viewed as a more common problem in developing
countries, poor nutrition, whether through famine or feasting, can be universal.
In 2008, when The Lancet published their Series on Maternal and Child Under-nutrition,
global policymakers began to take notice and the Scaling-Up Nutrition movement was born.
Today this momentum is continuing and the new Sustainable Development Goals focus more
on nutrition and non-communicable diseases than the Millennium Development Goals did.
We are also learning more and more about what can be done to lessen the burden of
malnutrition. Here we discuss four approaches, all of which will be needed for malnutrition to
significantly decline: the scaling up of successful and cost-effective direct interventions;
prioritisation of the first 1,000 day window in a child’s existence; the development of food
systems that deliver enough healthy food and prioritise human health; and coordination and
collaboration across government sectors to put nutrition at the heart of relevant policies and
Scale-up direct interventions where they work
Nutrition, while impacted by agricultural productivity, poverty and income, is unlikely to be
improved through more general programmes aimed at bringing about economic and social
development. Income growth alone will not reduce rates of malnutrition, and so we need
direct interventions to tackle malnutrition. Things such as vitamin, mineral and micronutrient
supplementation; delayed cord clamping after birth, kangaroo mother care, early initiation of
breastfeeding, promotion of dietary diversity, fortifying staple foods, cash transfer
programmes, community-based nutrition education, and school feeding programmes.
Although many cost-effective nutrition interventions have been tried and tested, and shown to
reduce the physical signs of malnutrition such as stunting and wasting in children, knowing
which interventions will work where and should be scaled up is complex. Different factors
matter in different countries, for example when investigating childhood nutrition outcomes in
East Africa maternal health was found to be the most important factor in reducing
malnutrition in Uganda and Rwanda but not for other countries. In a World Bank review of
46 nutrition impact evaluations published since 2000, each assessing the effect of a range of
nutrition interventions, many interventions were found to have a positive effect but not
consistently across all programmes and indicators. One intervention may have worked well in
one place but not in another. Local context such as the age of the target group, length of
intervention and methodologies used caused significant disparity in the results. As the review
states “we should not be asking simply ‘What works?’ but rather ‘Under what conditions
does it work, for whom, what part of the intervention works, and for how much?’” We now
need to go beyond the idea of one-size-fits-all nutrition interventions while learning from
successful nutrition interventions.
Prioritise the 1000 day window
In early age, malnutrition can have largely irreversible negative impacts on physical and
cognitive development, education, future earning and mortality.
Children who survive early malnutrition experience stunted growth and impaired metal
capacity. Maternal under nutrition is estimated to contribute to almost a million neonatal
deaths each year and stunting, wasting and micronutrient deficiencies are believed to
contribute to almost 2 million+ deaths annually.
As such it is critical that interventions are directed to the first 1,000 days of a child’s
existence, from conception to 2 years old, if the long-term problems associated with
childhood malnutrition are to be addressed. Without tackling undernutrition in these 1,000
days the cycle of undernourished mothers birthing undernourished children will be difficult to
Medical studies have found that interventions during gestation and in the first two years of
life can prevent child malnutrition and its effects, and investments during this period are
likely to have the greatest value in reducing malnutrition. Bhutta et al (2013) modelled the
effects a range of interventions in the 34 countries that contain 90% of the world’s children
with stunted growth. They found that current total deaths in children under five can be
reduced by 15% if 10 evidence-based nutrition interventions are implemented at 90%
coverage. The cost of doing so in these 34 countries is calculated as $9.6 billion per year. But
the study also stresses the importance of nutrition-sensitive approaches in such areas as
education, agriculture, female empowerment and social protection.
Develop healthier food systems
Food systems began changing in the mid-20th century but modern systems no longer meet
the needs of nutritious, healthy and sustainable diets. The modern food system emerged from
government policies addressing the need to increase calories and protein in diets by focusing
on intensifying production of key commodities (e.g. maize, soy, and livestock) after World
War II. What followed from this were policies to encourage globalisation, increased control
of the food system by private businesses, and vertical integration in food chains. Although
designed to enhance global food security and availability, it developed without consideration
for its impact on providing healthy diets. As such a system well-equipped to transport large
amounts of highly-processed and treated foods around the world is also well suited to
supporting the excessive intake of refined carbohydrates, sodium, sugar and saturated fat.
The modernisation of food systems, which is occurring rapidly in many low- and middleincome countries, is facilitating the consumption of more packaged, processed foods with
added sugar and salt, greater consumption of meat, increase incidence of snacking and
reduced consumption of whole foods. Although countries differ in the characteristics of their
“nutrition transition”, in general there is a trade-off between being able to access more food
but that food being less nutritious. Indeed it was found that increased food supplies globally
have resulted in significant reductions in malnutrition since the 1970s.
But what would a healthy and sustainable food system look like? Being made up of the
environment, people, institutions and processes by which agricultural products are produced,
processed and brought to consumers. As well as food prices, consumer knowledge and
markets, there are a lot of factors which all need to be working towards delivering healthy,
nutritious and safe foods. Unfortunately a single model will not work everywhere
but building in socioeconomic and environmental feedbacks, making the processes
transparent and the actors accountable, and utilising a diversity of food systems to support
resilience, should one fail, are some of the principles to apply.
Coordinate across governmental sectors
Direct nutrition interventions are undoubtedly important but so too are agricultural
production, diversity and sustainability as well as non-food factors such as health services,
women’s education and access to water. A vast number of factors contribute to a population’s
nutrition status, although their relative importance may differ by geographic area and food
availability. As such government sectors such as agriculture, health, environment, education
and the economy in general must be on the same page and committed when it comes to
tackling nutrition. Reductions in childhood stunting in Peru, from a rate of 29.8% in 2005 to
18.1% in 2011, have been attributed to improved policy and institutional coordination, pooled
funding for nutrition and binding nutrition targets, as well as the creation of a civil society
platform, the Child Malnutrition Initiative. Policy change after 2006, which saw a reduction
in the number of nutrition stakeholders and the creation of common policy goals and
agreements, as well as a firm and public commitment from the Peruvian government to
reduce chronic malnutrition in children under five by 5 percent in 5 years, along with direct
nutrition interventions and efforts to reduce poverty enable Peru to reach this goal.
The Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI) ranks governments on their political
commitment to tackling hunger and undernutrition. Latest results sees 11 of the last 15 (those
countries whose governments are the least committed to tackling hunger and undernutrition)
are in Africa. Peru has overtaken Guatemala and tops the rankings and is in fact making a
clear effort in the fight against hunger and undernutrition, although the country still has high
stunting rates in rural areas. The 2014 HANCI report, released in September 2015, finds that
commitment to addressing undernutrition falls short of the commitment to ending hunger and
that despite a greater focus on nutrition in the SDGs, it is still insufficient to tackle
So we know that we need better access to nutritious foods, safe water and sanitation, quality
healthcare, poverty reduction, social protection and women’s education and empowerment.
We know that there are a variety of direct, indirect, systemic and political changes that can
improve nutrition. But knowing broadly what is needed is only a very small part of the battle.
Nutrition is multi-scale, multi-sector, and location-specific. We really need for global
objectives and policy such as the SDGs to promote the goal of ending malnutrition effectively
and then we need countries to follow Peru’s lead in committing to this goal. What is clear is
that significantly reducing rates of malnutrition in developing countries is both achievable
and scalable.
Prioritise the 1,000-day window: 3.1 million children die every year due to malnutrition. An
additional 165 million children who manage to survive malnutrition in their early years
experience stunted growth and cognitive development, undermining their future productivity
and therefore income. We need to focus on nutrition of mothers and children during a child’s
first 1,000 days, an effort that can have long-term consequences for growth, health and
intellectual capacity.
Bring girls’ health into focus: More than one in four children born in low- and middleincome countries are underweight for their age. In addition, most pregnant women living in
these countries cannot access nutrition services until the fifth or sixth month of their
pregnancies, if at all. As a result, their children start their lives already malnourished. If we
prioritise the health of women and girls, we can boost general nutrition, reduce pregnancy
complications and boost fetal growth and development.
Expand reach through community health workers: Community health worker programs
offer a prime opportunity to increase already successful nutrition programs’ coverage and
provide services to populations who presently lack access. Several countries, including
Ethiopia, have already started investing in community health worker programs to promote
maternal and child health and nutrition with great success. Community health workers hold
great promise to bring nutrition services to those most vulnerable to malnutrition, and their
capacity to carry out this work should therefore be strengthened.
Align other sectors with nutrition goals: It seems common sense that agriculture, social
safety nets and other important sectors could also play a role in advancing nutrition progress.
Yet until this point, these programs have often not been designed, implemented or evaluated
with improved nutrition outcomes in mind. Going forward, countries should take the
opportunity to better integrate nutrition goals into these sectors. Donors should also support
rigorous impact evaluations and studies to build a richer evidence base of what works with
nutrition-sensitive approaches in agriculture, social safety nets and other sectors.
Devote funding to nutrition programs: The economic toll of malnutrition, on individuals
and even countries, is astonishing. Malnutrition can rob individuals of up to 10 percent of
their annual earnings and cost African countries up to 11 percent of their annual GDP. The
good news is malnutrition solutions offer sound investments for countries’ futures. However,
many national nutrition plans are only 20 percent funded. Countries must start prioritising
nutrition programs within their national budgets.
Sustain global commitment: Progress towards reducing malnutrition will require a steadfast
commitment from the international community. USAID recently pledged $1 billion for
nutrition-specific interventions and nearly $9 billion for nutrition-sensitive activities for 2012
to 2014, and other countries have similarly stepped up their commitments.
Moving forward, donors will need to show patience in awaiting outcomes of nutrition
programmes, as results cannot be clearly measured until a child’s second birthday. We
also need to hold policymakers accountable to their commitments to nutrition progress
and harness the global momentum on nutrition to produce more effective programs.