Scourge of Hidden Hunger
Inadequacy of Nutrition for nearly a third of the global people is affecting their productivity
A staggering two billion people get so little essential vitamins and minerals from the foods they eat that they remain undernourished, according to the 2014 Global Hunger Index (GHI), prepared at intervals of every two year by the International Food Policy Research Institute, Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide.
The inadequacy of nutrition is termed as ‘Hidden Hunger’. This weakens the immune system, stunts physical and intellectual growth, and is potentially devastating.
Global Hunger Index is measured by 1-Proportion of the population that is undernourished, 2-Prevalence of Underweight in Children who are less than five, and 3-Proportion of children dying before the age of five years.
What is Hunger?
Hunger is usually understood to refer to the distress associated with lack of food. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) defines food deprivation or under-nourishment, as the consumption of fewer than 1,800 kilocalories of a day—the minimum that most people require everyday to live a healthy and productive life.
Poor nutrition causes losses to productivity and reduced economic growth.
· Hidden hunger afflicts two billion people globally, or one in every three persons. Particularly its affect on newborns (in 1,000 days from birth) could be devastating and can affect cognitive skills.
· Though the scale of hunger is declining, still 805 million people across the globe continue to go hungry everyday in 2014, a year ahead of 2015, the year for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). They do not have enough calories to eat.
· Since 1990, the hunger has come down by 39% in developing countries.
· Despite improvement, hunger prevails in sub-Saharan African countries and South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal etc).
· Levels of hunger are either ‘extremely alarming’ or ‘alarming’ in 16 countries. Burundi and Eritrea, both in Africa, come under ‘extremely alarming’ category.
· From 1990 Global Hunger Index (GHI) to 2014, twenty six countries reduced their scores by 50%. These include Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chad, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Thailand and Vietnam which saw the biggest improvement in the score since 1990.
· India has improved its position considerably. It has moved to 120th place in 2014 among the 128 countries for which data on underweight children was gathered. In 2009, it stood on 126th position. India now ranks 55th on GHI among 78 countries, ahead of Pakistan and Bangladesh (both on 57th ) but trails behind Nepal which stands on 44th place.
· Burundi, Comoros and Eritrea have the highest proportion of undernourished people i.e., more than 60% of the population.
· Bangladesh, Niger, Timor-Leste and Yemen have the highest prevalence of underweight in children under five, amounting to more than 35% in each of these countries.
· Angloa, Chad and Sierra Leone have the highest under-five mortality rate ie., ranging between 15 and 18%.
· Iraq has suffered a downslide on the GHI since 1990 due to deteriorating accessibility and quality of services for decades and years of instability, large number of internally displaced people.
· Nearly 18 million babies suffer from brain damage due to iodine deficiency every year.
· Severe anemia leads to death of 50,000 women during childbirth every year.