Understanding the true cost of malnutrition
The effects on human health
Besides undernutrition, malnutrition also includes micronutrient-deficient diets and overweight and obesity. Chronic malnutrition can have serious, often life-threatening, health consequences, especially for children.
Undernutrition can lead to physical and cognitive stunting, and makes children more susceptible to infectious diseases.
Micronutrient deficiencies can cause severe illnesses and physical impairments, including anemia, mental retardation, blindness, and spinal and brain birth defects.
Overweight and obesity increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, cancer, joint problems and gall bladder problems.
The effects on social and economic development
Malnutrition keeps people from reaching their full potential. Malnourished children underperform in school, limiting their future job opportunities. Malnourished adults are less able to work, contribute to local economies, and provide care for their families. Malnourished mothers are more likely to have underweight children, who will in turn have a higher risk of physical and cognitive impairment. This perpetuates a cycle of poverty and economic stagnation.