Variations in nutritional status and access are both a driver and an outcome of inequity. Undernutrition inhibits cognitive development and educational success, both of which are important determinants of labour productivity and economic growth.
Overweight and obesity are important risk factors for non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Malnourished children in the poorest income groups are most likely to face multiple deficits and require effective intervention coverage for prevention, treatment and care.
Nutrition inequities are also driven by political, economic, geographic and social factors, and multiple malnutrition burdens disproportionately affect women. Improved food security and nutrition helps foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies, and should be addressed in ways that promote sustainable consumption and production, can protect the planet from degradation, and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Investing in nutrition has the potential to pay significant dividends in breaking the poverty cycle and in stimulating economic development.
Estimates suggest that up to 11% of gross domestic product is lost to maternal and child undernutrition; and the total economic impact of obesity is estimated at 2.8% of GDP worldwide. Well-nourished children are 33% more likely to escape poverty as adults and investments in nutrition are able to generate benefit-cost returns of 16-to-1.
Undernutrition inhibits cognitive development and educational success, both of which are important determinants of labour productivity and economic growth.
In short, by investing in improved nutrition, Member States and their partners in sustainable development can ensure that all people, societies and nations can reach their full potential, and contribute to the attainment of many of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The United Nations General Assembly has recently adopted a resolution proclaiming a UN Decade of Action on Nutrition from 2016 to 2025.
The resolution aims to trigger intensified action to end hunger and eradicate malnutrition worldwide, and ensure universal access to healthier and more sustainable diets – for all people, whoever they are and wherever they live, and it calls on governments to set national nutrition targets for 2025 and milestones based on internationally agreed indicators.
Source: World Health Organization
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