Poor nutrition is capable of seriously damaging a child’s life chances before he or she even sets foot in a classroom.

Today, on World Hunger Day, Save the Children released a new report ‘Food for Thought.’ This report makes the case for increased investment in nutrition, arguing that investment in nutrition is not only the right thing to do, it’s a down-payment on future prosperity.

The evidence presented in this report shows that preventing undernutrition in children and women in the crucial 1,000-day window – from the start of a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday – could greatly increase children’s ability to learn and earn, as well as boost the prosperity of whole countries.

foodforthought

DOWNLOAD THIS REPORT (PDF)

Today one-quarter of the world’s children are at risk of under-performing at school because of chronic malnutrition (stunting), one of the most severe manifestations and consequences of undernutrition. Poor nutrition, in the first 1000 days of life, can have long-term impacts on children’s brain development and cognition. The physical impact of undernutrition means that even when children have access to education they often achieve less than their full potential. According to the report, compared to non-stunted children, children who are stunted:

  • score 7% lower on maths test
  • are 19% less likely to be able to read a simple sentence aged 8, and 12% less likely to be able to write a simple sentence
  • are 13% less likely to be in the appropriate grade for their age at school.

“We have made huge progress in tackling child deaths, but having a quarter of the world’s children at risk of under-performing at school will have grave consequences for the fight to end global poverty,” says Justin Forsyth, the charities chief executive.

Stunting can have severe implications when a child reaches adulthood. Children who are stunted often earn as much as 20% less in adulthood. Therefore, they are less able to contribute to the financial needs of their households, increasing the risk of families being locked in a cycle of poverty and poor health. The economic burdens are far reaching and extend further than the household. According to the new report, the global economic impact of continuing to neglect undernutrition could be up to $125bn (£83bn).

Nutrition for Growth

Despite being one of the most cost effective forms of development assistance, spending on nutrition is less than 0.4 percent of global development spending.

The Prime Ministers “Nutrition for Growth” Hunger Summit, on June 8th, offers the perfect opportunity to bring new energy to this neglected issue and secure a healthy and prosperous future for millions of children.

Blog by Sabrina de Souza, Nutrition Advocacy Assistant