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The Cost of Malnutrition: 11% of the world’s GDP

Posted:  Monday, November 24, 2014

According to the recent edition of “The Global Nutrition Report”, malnutrition costs the global economy $3.5 trillion a year in both the developing and developed worlds. This translates to 11% of the world’s GDP.

This report was produced by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in conjunction with a large number of NGOs, research institutions, academic journals like The Lancet and policy makers.

The report compiled the findings of the biggest ever global survey of nutrition and is touted to form the centerpiece of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2nd International Conference on Nutrition to be held in Rome between 19-21 November, 2014.

The report notes that undernutrition comprising of hunger, micronutrient deficiencies and related ailments, and overnutrition comprising of obesity and related ailments are present in a large number of countries. The report mentions that of the 193 countries assessed, not a single country escapes the burden of either under or over nutrition that affects 2 billion people around the globe and costs trillions in lost productivity.

The report also mentions that around 100 countries experience both hunger and obesity concerns simultaneously. The report while providing detailed country by country tables and an industry-focused table, notes that although progress has been made in areas such as childhood stunting in certain countries, the overall picture is alarming, especially in countries where the youth form a substantial number of the population.

The report states “Globally little progress is being made in decreasing rates for anaemia, low birth weight, wasting in children under the age of five, and overweight under the age of five”

Evaluating the results of the survey, the report mentions that World Health Assembly goals including reducing stunting in children under five by 40%, and preventing increases in the number of overweight children by 2025 are unlikely to be achieved in many countries.

The IFPRI researcher Lawrence Haddad said, “When we put all this data together, there isn’t a country that doesn’t experience significant malnutrition.”

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