The Malnutrition Challenge
Malnutrition is the insufficient, excessive or imbalanced consumption of nutrients. Insufficient and imbalanced malnutrition is prevalent within the developing world and negatively affects people's health, productivity, sense of hope and overall well-being.


The consequences of malnutrition are varied and far-reaching. Undernutrition, a severe form of malnutrition, can result in retarded growth and development, reduced physical activity and intellectual performance, impaired resistance to infections, increased morbidity and leads to disabilities and death. Poor nutritional status in general is associated with increased prevalence of anaemia, pregnancy and delivery problems, increased rates of intrauterine growth retardation, low birth weight and perinatal mortality.
The effects of malnutrition are mind-boggling. It perpetuates a generational cycle of low productivity and poverty because malnourished parents bear underweight, malnourished children. In turn, malnourished children are likely to be intellectually impaired, with diminished productive and creative capacities. Malnutrition is a tangle of two mutually reinforcing factors: insufficient nutrient intake and illness. Disease and inadequate diet act synergistically, each aggravating the effects of the other to produce the \'malnutrition and infection complex\'.

In malnourished persons, illnesses tend to be more frequent, more severe and prolonged.
Across the world, the malnutrition challenge is prevalent and interlinked with moderate to extreme forms of poverty, where individuals or families cannot afford to meet their most basic nutritional needs. Statistics on Malnutrition and World Bank's definition of extreme poverty as people who live on less than US $1.25 per day correlate perfectly. Statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) show that over a billion people suffer more serious malnutrition. It is also these poor people who face chronic undernourishment that result in stunted growth, physical and mental weakness and heightened susceptibility to illness. This reduces their ability to work and their productivity, which in turn reduces their employability and ability to generate their own income. As their incomes dwindle, their ability to purchase or access nutritionally balanced diet also diminishes thus exacerbating chronic undernourishment and completing the vicious cycle linking poverty and malnutrition.


Malnutrition constitutes a global \'silent emergency', killing millions every year and sapping the long-term economic vitality of nations. That malnutrition, poverty and the economy are interlinked is a foregone conclusion. Economically, the constant search for food consumes valuable time and energy of poor people, allowing less time for work and earning an income. Socially, the lack of proper nutrition and poor health burden families and communities with increased medical cost and burden of care for the sick. Also, malnutrition reduces ability of recovery from infectious and non-infectious diseases thus increasing social costs from the death of productive members of the communities.
Related Links
The GCGH initiative Goals & Grand Challenges Grand Challenge The ABS Project
   
 
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