Talking Nutrition Editors
The Global Nutrition Report, first published in 2014 by a multi-stakeholder group, provides an annual review of the progress made towards meeting global malnutrition targets by 2025 and the latest results have just been published.
The 2018 edition has reported that although some progress has been made, the burden of malnutrition across the world remains unacceptably high and the pace of change too slow. While improvements have been seen in levels of stunting amongst children and a slight decrease in underweight women, malnutrition is still responsible for more ill health than any other condition. The report reveals a worrying situation facing children under five years of age with 150.8 million categorized as wasted and 38.3 million classed as overweight. In addition, no country are on track to meet the nine malnutrition targets set by the World Health Organization member states for 2025.
Challenges around funding global nutrition policies, the impact of political and environmental crises and a lack of holistic programs to tackle malnutrition are also highlighted. Significantly, the report also notes that while data is improving, there is a substantial gap around micronutrient deficiencies which impacts our understanding of the nature of the malnutrition burden.
However, the report also argues that we have never been better placed to end malnutrition and take positive action to improve the lives of millions of people worldwide. So what can be done to make this happen?
The fortification of staple foods is a key strategy identified in the report to help support communities with widespread micronutrient deficiencies and tackle hidden hunger.
Hidden hunger occurs when people do not get all of the vitamins and minerals they need over a long period of time despite consuming sufficient calories. Adding vitamins and minerals to common foods, like flour and rice, can help improve the lives of populations worldwide. DSM’s Nutrition Improvement activities have provided high quality, affordable and innovative nutritional solutions in the developing world for decades.
Anthony Hehir, Director – Nutrition Improvement, DSM Nutritional Products Human Nutrition & Health commented, “We’re committed to achieving a brighter future for everyone through optimal nutrition. And collaboration with NGOs, governments and academic institutions is key to doing this successfully. We work with partners including the World Food Programme, UNICEF, World Vision and Vitamin Angels to provide nutrition solutions for the world's most vulnerable populations and help solve the challenges outlined in the Global Nutrition Report.“
Data is critical to improving our understanding of malnutrition to help drive better informed decision making when it comes to developing nutrition improvement programs as well as accurately tracking progress. Poor quality and misrepresentative data are common problems flagged in the report, and it is vital that standardized methods of data collection and reporting are established.
However, while having quality data is important, the right structure needs to be in place to deal with it effectively. The report sets out five critical steps that need to be taken for a successful and united global approach to tackling malnutrition: