News / Asia

Report: Child Malnutrition Costs Global Economy Billions

According to the UN, in 2012 47% of children under five in southern Asia and 39% in sub-Saharan Africa were stunted – too short for their age due to poor nutrition.
According to the UN, in 2012 47% of children under five in southern Asia and 39% in sub-Saharan Africa were stunted – too short for their age due to poor nutrition.
Selah Hennessy
A report by a Britain-based charity says one-quarter of the world's children may underperform at school because of chronic malnutrition. Save the Children says tackling malnutrition should be a priority for G8 leaders meeting next month in Northern Ireland.

The report published on Tuesday says a stunted eight-year-old is almost 20 percent more likely to find it hard to read basic sentences than someone of the same age who has a good diet.

David McNair, head of growth, equity and livelihoods at Save the Children UK, said, "Those who are malnourished have consistently scored lower on math tests and found it more difficult to read a simple sentence at age eight. And as they go through life that effects their confidence, career aspirations and ultimately their ability to earn money."

The report was based on an international study, Young Lives, which is led by a team from the University of Oxford. Thousands of children were involved in the research, which covered Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam.

It says the period from when a woman becomes pregnant until a child is two is a critical time for brain development. If the pregnant or breast-feeding woman and the infant don't have access to the right nutrients, both brain development and cognitive performance can be compromised.

McNair said the impact of malnutrition, however, goes beyond the biology of the brain.

"There is interesting evidence on the stimulus they receive. Because children who are malnourished look smaller, their parents and their caregivers tend to treat them as if they were younger than they are. And that means they do not get the right stimulus and their brains are not developing as a result of that stimulus," he said.

Tuesday's report says the impact of childhood malnutrition poses a major threat to the long-term economic growth of many developing countries.

U.N. figures suggest that last year nearly 50 percent of children under five in southern Asia and 40 percent of under-five in sub-Saharan Africa were stunted - too short for their age due to poor nutrition.

Save the Children predicts that malnourished children may, as adults, earn 20 percent less than their nourished peers, costing the global economy more than $100 billion a year.

Therefore, said McNair, targeting malnutrition now will have major long-term effects. But despite being one of the most cost-effective forms of development, nutrition programs get only slightly more than 0.3 percent of global development spending.

Early next month the British and Brazilian governments are hosting the first-ever nutrition pledging conference.
 
Save the Children wants spending on nutrition to more than double to $1 billion a year. And it aims to encourage middle-income countries to put nutrition at the top of their spending agenda.

"We want developing country governments also to make their own commitments. Because some of these countries where malnutrition is a major problem, countries like India and Nigeria, are actually middle-income countries and have resources themselves; they just need to invest in them in the right way," said McNair.

According to Save the Children, 10.9 million children under five in Nigeria are stunted. In India, the figure is 61.4 million.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Robert C. Dickerson, II from: Seattle
May 28, 2013 7:01 PM
Today is World Hunger Day, and a number of RESULTS volunteers are fasting. Many around the world face starvation and malnutrition. In fact, malnutrition is such a severe problem that one in four children under age five around the world are stunted - their physical growth, and their brain development are reduced. For many of these children, the results of this stunting can never be repaired. On June 8, there will be a Nutrition for Growth Summit in London, in advance of the G-8 meeting. This is our opportunity to help address this problem. The means are simple - things like Vitamin A, Zinc, Iodized salt, and an emphasis on breast feeding. The U.S. doesn't need to do it all. But we certainly can lead.
In Response

by: Doug Leen from: Alaska
May 30, 2013 10:11 PM
I'd vote for world wide access to birth control.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More