Food For Thought: Fighting Malnutrition
In June of 2016, UNICEF reported that nearly 50% of all deaths in children under five were attributable by malnutrition. This epidemic affects people of all ages and ethnicities on a global scale, where poverty stricken neighborhoods struggle to stay fed. Malnutrition negatively impacts every bodily function and results in increased susceptibility to airborne illnesses, heart failure, depression, lifetime osteoporosis in children, and death.
In the last week of September, we reflect on world hunger during Malnutrition Awareness Week and how we can put an end to malnourishment worldwide.
What exactly is malnutrition?
An individual becomes malnourished if the food they eat does not provide the proper amounts of micronutrients – vitamins and minerals – to meet daily nutritional requirements.
Someone suffering from malnutrition will have difficulty performing normal tasks such as growing and resisting disease. Physical work becomes problematic and learning abilities can be diminished.
What causes malnutrition?
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the primary cause of hunger is poverty. In multiple studies conducted by the World Hunger Education Service, harmful economic systems are to blame for malnutrition. Control over resources and income, especially in African countries, is often based on militarism and unjust political prowess by corrupt leaders. By keeping the people oppressed and unable to revolt, those in power filter the money (and therefore food) into their pockets while the poor are left to their own devices.
In some cases, climate changes, flooding, droughts and forest fires, can wipe out sources of food.
How can we prevent it?
Contrary to popular belief, the world produces enough food to feed everyone, but people around the world don’t always make enough money to afford quality food.
Even in Western countries, malnutrition plagues cafeterias that lack essential vitamins, while the homeless in populated cities are “lucky” if they can get one meal a day at a soup kitchen. One meal a day may be enough to survive, but not enough to live.
Over the recent years, new grassroots organizations, including the AARP Foundation, Feeding America, Meals on Wheels, and Chef Cat Cora’s Chefs For Humanity, have taken the plunge into helping eliminate world malnutrition.
For more helpful resources on how to raise awareness and help end malnutrition, visit www.nutritioncare.org and www.unicef.org/nutrion