Tragically, more than a third of child deaths and greater than 10% of the total global disease burden is attributed to maternal and child undernutrition – which includes underweight, stunting, wasting, and deficiencies of essential vitamins and minerals (hidden hunger). The global burden of stunting far exceeds that of underweight, with 130 million children under five years of age being considered as underweight, as against approximately 195 million being stunted in the developing world . Many countries display far higher rates of stunting prevalence than underweight prevalence in children, making it an important public health issue. In the report “Tracking progress on child and maternal nutrition – A survival and development priority”, UNICEF states that, “Governments, donors and partners that consider only underweight prevalence are overlooking a significant portion of the persistent problem of undernutrition. The high stunting burden in many countries should be an issue of great concern.” This is further emphasized in the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition’s review paper on stunting: “Stunting in children below the age of five is a stronger indicator of hunger and of one of its determinants, poverty, than other anthropometric indicators or estimates of per capita income.
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