CRF Blog

Poverty and food

by David De La Torre

In The nutrition puzzle, The Economist reports on terrible toll of malnutrition.

Malnutrition is attracting attention now because the damage it does has only recently begun to sink in. The misery of lacking calories — bloated bellies, wasted limbs, the lethargy of famine — is easy to spot. So are the disastrous effects of obesity. By contrast, the ravages of inadequate nutrition are veiled, but no less dreadful.

More than 160m children in developing countries suffer from a lack of vitamin A; 1m die because they have weak immune systems and 500,000 go blind each year. Iron deficiency causes anaemia, which affects almost half of poor-country children and over 500m women, killing more than 60,000 of them each year in pregnancy. Iodine deficiency — easily cured by adding the stuff to salt — causes 18m babies each year to be born with mental impairments.

Malnutrition is associated with over a third of children’s deaths and is the single most important risk factor in many diseases …. A third of all children in the world are underweight or stunted (too short for their age), the classic symptoms of malnourishment. [more]