Children and hunger
Children are the most visible victims of undernutrition. Black et. al. (2013) estimate that undernutrition in the aggregate—including fetal growth restriction, stunting, wasting, and deficiencies of vitamin A and zinc along with suboptimum breastfeeding—is a cause of 3·1 million child deaths annually or 45% of all child deaths in 2011 (Black et al. 2013). Undernutrition magnifies the effect of every disease, including measles and malaria. The estimated proportions of deaths in which undernutrition is an underlying cause are roughly similar for diarrhea (61%), malaria (57%), pneumonia (52%), and measles (45%) (Black 2003, Bryce 2005). Malnutrition can also be caused by diseases, such as the diseases that cause diarrhea, by reducing the body’s ability to convert food into usable nutrients.
Globally 161 million under-five year olds were estimated to be stunted in 2013.
The global trend in stunting prevalence and numbers affected is decreasing. Between 2000 and 2013 stunting prevalence declined from 33% to 25% and numbers declined from 199 million to 161 million.
In 2013, about half of all stunted children lived in Asia and over one third in Africa. (UNICEF et al. 2014b)
Wasting and severe wasting
Globally, 51 million under-five year olds were wasted and 17 million were severely wasted in 2013.
Globally, wasting prevalence in 2013 was estimated at almost 8% and nearly a third of that was for severe wasting, totaling 3%.
In 2013, approximately two thirds of all wasted children lived in Asia and almost one third in Africa, with similar proportions for severely wasted children. (UNICEF et al. 2014b)