According to report ‘ Levels and trends in child malnutrition: United Nations Children’s Fund/World Health Organization/International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, The World Bank Group: the Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates’s (UNICEF/WHO/The World Bank Group: JME) key findings of the 2023 edition’ released on May 23, 2023, 18.7% of Indian children were affected by wasting in 2020 due to poor nutrient intake and/or recurrent illnesses.
- In 2022, globally, 148.1 million children under the age of 5 years were stunted, 45 million wasted, and 37 million overweight.
Backdrop: The UNICEF/WHO/The World Bank: JME , the United Nation’s inter-agency team, was created in 2011 to address the call for harmonized child malnutrition estimates and the team releases annually estimates for child stunting, overweight, underweight, wasting and severe wasting.
Key Findings of the report 2023:
a.Wasting and Severe wasting:
Southern Asia has the highest wasting prevalence of any sub-region in the world.Southern Asia refers to a specific geographic sub-region encompassing countries located in the southern part of the Asian continent. It includes countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and others.
i.India is the largest country in southern Asia, which has half of all children with wasting in the world live.
ii.In 2022, an estimated 45 million children under five (6.8%) were affected by wasting globally, of which 13.6 million (2.1%) were suffering from severe wasting.
iii.More than three quarters of all children with severe wasting live in Asia and another 22% live in Africa.
i.India had a stunting rate of 31.7% in 2022, compared to 41.6 % in 2012, a decade ago.
- 148.1 million, or 22.3% of children under age 5 worldwide, were affected by stunting in 2022.
- Nearly all children affected lived in Asia (52% of the global share) and Africa (43% of the global share).
i.India had an overweight percentage of 2.8% in 2022, compared to 2.2% in 2012.
ii.Global:There are around 37 million children under 5 who are overweight globally, an increase of nearly four million since 2000.
- One out of every five children are affected by overweight in Australia and New Zealand.
Other Findings of the report:
i.The key findings in the 2023 Edition include global and regional trends for all for the child malnutrition indicators of stunting, wasting, overweight and underweight
ii.Insufficient Progress: The JME 2023 reveals insufficient progress to reach the 2025 World Health Assembly (WHA) global nutrition targets and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 2.2.
- Only about one third of all countries are ‘on track’ to halve the number of children affected by stunting by 2030.
- Only fewer countries are expected to achieve the 2030 target of 3% prevalence for overweight, with just one in six countries currently ‘on track’.
- An assessment of progress towards the wasting target is not possible for nearly half of countries.
iii.As per the report, more intensive efforts are required if the world is to achieve the global target of reducing the number of children with stunting to 89 million by 2030.
- With current progress, the 2030 target will be missed by 39.5 million children, with more than 80% of these ‘missed’ children living in Africa.
About Wasting, Stunting and Overweight:
- It is defined as low weight-for-height. It often indicates recent and severe weight loss and it usually occurs when a person has not had food of adequate quality and quantity and/or they have had frequent or prolonged illnesses.
- Children suffering from wasting have weakened immunity, and are associated with a higher risk of death if not treated properly.
- It is defined as low height-for-age. It is the result of chronic or recurrent undernutrition, usually associated with poverty, poor maternal health and nutrition, frequent illness and/or inappropriate feeding and care in early life.
- Stunting prevents children from reaching their physical and cognitive potential.
- Childhood overweight occurs when children’s calorie intake from food and beverages exceeds their energy requirements.
- This form of malnutrition is driven by failing food systems characterised by poor affordability as well as access to nutritious foods.
- BMI: The most commonly used measure for overweight and obesity is the Body Mass Index (BMI) – a simple index to classify overweight and obesity in adults. It is defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters (kg/m2).
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About United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF):
Executive Director – Catherine M. Russell
Headquarters – New York, USA
Establishment – 1946