Child malnutrition is the single biggest contributor to deaths in kids under the age of 5 worldwide. Addressing and preventing child malnutrition could save 3 million children every year. Here's what you need to know about childhood malnutrition, what it looks like and how it can be prevented and cured.
Malnourished children are more susceptible to infections and less able to recover from illness. It manifests in in three different ways:
- Stunting – a result of poor nutrition in utero and early childhood. Those affected may never reach their optimal adult height or cognitive ability.
- Wasting – refers to a child who is thin for his/her height but not necessarily short. Wasted kids have a high risk of dying from common diseases.
- Overweight – While seemingly at the opposite end of the spectrum from stunting and wasting, obesity can be addressed by the same remedies.
While malnutrition manifests in multiple ways, the prevention and cure is always the same:
1. Breastfeeding for the first two years
2. Access to nutritious, diverse and safe foods
3. Good nutrition for mothers before and during pregnancy and during lactation
4. Access to basic healthcare, clean water, hygiene and sanitation services and opportunities for safe physical activity