News / Health

Findings Could Help Slash Child Malnutrition

Findings Could Help Slash Child Malnutritioni
X
July 16, 2013 10:45 PM
Experts say funding child nutrition is the highest profit-yielding strategy any country can take. If children are starving, they get sick more easily, need more costly health care, and earn less than adults who had the right nutrition. VOA’s Carol Pearson reports on the economics of preventing child malnutrition.

Findings Could Help Slash Child Malnutrition

TEXT SIZE - +
Carol Pearson
Experts say funding child nutrition is the highest profit-yielding strategy any country can take.  If children are starving, they get sick more easily, need more costly health care, and earn less than adults who had the right nutrition. 
 
Child malnutrition is a global problem. It exists even in rich countries. It affects a large number of children in Asia, especially in south Asia. 
 
In parts of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa, it threatens child survival. 
 
Dr. Peter Salama represents UNICEF, the United Nations children's agency, in Ethiopia. 
 
"Almost every country in Africa today has an acute rate of malnutrition. The question is how high it goes," he said. 
 
New studies published in the Lancet medical journal show that malnutrition causes 45 percent of all deaths in children under the age of five. Other children suffer stunting, meaning their body and brain fail to develop properly.
 
The problem starts in the womb, says Dr. Robert Black of Johns Hopkins University, who headed the series. 
 
“Undernourished mothers have fetuses that don’t grow as well, so fetal growth restriction itself is a problem.  Babies who are born small for their gestational age have increased mortality and increased stunting and developmental problems later," he said. 
 
The researchers say if countries take some simple measures, they can save the lives of one million children a year. 
 
The proposals include giving pregnant women folic acid and calcium supplements, promoting breast feeding, and giving young children vitamin A and zinc supplements.   
 
The Lancet reports that cutting child malnutrition by 20 percent would cost nine billion dollars.
 
Harold Alderman is with the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington and one of the Lancet series' authors.   
 
“For every dollar invested, you can get between eight and ten dollars of economic returns," he said. "And when I do these studies, I say 'look, nobody knows how to say how valuable is saving a life.'" 
 
Alderman says governments profit when they keep children well fed. 
 
“I’m a little puzzled as to why governments still think of investments in nutrition, as how you compensate the poor, 'but we’ll do our productive investments elsewhere.' These are productive investments. There is no question. The numbers are there," he said. 
 
Alderman says investing in child nutrition will improve a country’s economy because well-fed children do better in school and eventually become a stronger labor force. That statement is supported by other research showing that adults who were malnourished as children earn 20 percent less than those who had proper nutrition.  
 
Trustina Sabah contributed to this report.

You May Like

China Rejects Obama’s Stance on Japan Island Dispute

Obama told Japanese newspaper that Washington would come to Tokyo's defense if there is ever a conflict over islands in East China Sea, which China also claims as its own More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Chuck Spohr from: USA
July 17, 2013 1:41 PM
Thank you to VOA for publishing this article and Ms Pearson for this part of her career reporting on large organizations dealing with these problems. I am hoping it is no more than ignorance that is keeping many children from receiving the simple nutrients that could make so much of a difference. Ms Pearson, please consider investigating what NGOs would be very effective with this problem.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid