Infographic showing facts from Global Nutrition Report 2016

Global malnutrition on the rise

One third of the world’s population is malnourished according to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report, an annual study of the state of the world’s nutrition. The number of overweight children is rapidly increasing in developing countries, and many parts of the world suffer from a ‘double burden’ of malnutrition, with high rates of both undernourishment and obesity.

“Malnutrition is on the rise in every country in the world and is a leading global driver of disease,” the report concludes. But behind these alarming facts, some significant improvements are highlighted. A few examples:

  • 99 countries have made progress toward decreasing nutritional stunting, which complicates life for more than 150 million children today.
  • In Ghana, cases of stunting have been reduced by nearly half in a decade, and Brazil sets the standard for government-led approaches in ending malnutrition.
  • It can pay economically to invest in preventing malnutrition. Every year, Africa and Asia lose 11 percent of their GDP due to malnutrition, but for every 1 USD spent, there is a 16 USD return on investment.

It’s been nearly one year since the UN Sustainable Development Goals were agreed upon. The Global Nutrition Report is an important document in the fight to end malnutrition by 2030.

The high cost of eating right

While the double burden of malnutrition is becoming the “new normal” across the globe, a study recently presented in The Lancet shows that it is prohibitively expensive for many to eat according to dietary recommendations. The survey, covering more than 143 000 people, reveals that the poorest income groups in the world struggle to afford the fruit and vegetables they need.

Several international guidelines advocate consuming two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables per day. The cost for this corresponds to more than half the monthly income for families in the lowest income groups. However, the cost for the more affluent families is an average of just 2 percent of their income.

In all regions, a higher percentage of income to meet the guidelines was required in rural areas than in urban areas.