The Global Nutrition Report finds not a single country out of 193 assessed escapes the burden of either under (usually hunger and micronutrient deficiencies and related ailments) or over nutrition (obesity and related ailments) that affects 2bn people around the globe and costs trillions in lost productivity.
The work will form the centrepiece of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2nd International Conference on Nutrition which takes place in Rome next week.
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), which produced the report in conjunction with a large number of NGOs, research institutions, academic journals like The Lancet and policy makers found around 100 countries experience both hunger and obesity concerns simultaneously.
While it notes progress in some areas such as the battle against childhood stunting in selected countries (see a country-by-country table and an industry focused table on that), the overall picture is damning, especially in youth nutrition.
"Globally, little progress is being made in decreasing rates for anaemia, low birth weight, wasting in children under age five, and overweight in children under age five," it states.
It says World Health Assembly goals including reducing the number of children under five who are stunted by 40% and halting increases in the number of overweight children by 2025 are unlikely to be achieved in many countries, even though some were making good progress toward the targets.
"When we put all this data together, there isn't a country that doesn't experience significant malnutrition," said IFPRI researcher Lawrence Haddad.
Political commitment is growing…
Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) welcomed the report and said the fight for better nutrition needed to involve as many parties as possible.
“Ending malnutrition throughout the world requires action on many fronts. The health sector cannot do it alone. But political commitment is growing. More and more countries know what they need to do to ensure access to healthy diets for all. This report will help us track progress toward global nutrition targets and understand where greater investments are needed,” she said.
Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, urged governments to make use of the report’s findings.
“Policymakers should heed the report’s call to prioritise collecting more and better nutrition data to drive even greater impact on the lives of the poorest in the years ahead.”
The United Nations World Food Programme estimates poor nutrition is the cause of about of the annual 3m deaths of children under 5-years-old.
UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) executive director Anthony Lake took a positive slant on infant and child nutrition in stating: “This has started to change as the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement has gained force, supported by more than 50 countries and the commitment of governments, international organizations, civil society, and communities to scale up nutrition.”