Nutrition and Health
From SDG Academy on 20 August, 2019
Malnutrition is a major issue worldwide, especially in children, and has cognitive as well as physical effects. There are a few measures of malnutrition: stunting is a measure of height for age in children under five, wasting is acute malnutrition that occurs in areas with seasonal hunger, micronutrient deficiency is when individuals lack vitamins and minerals like zinc, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin D, and overweight and obesity is measured in Body Mass Index. The double burden of disease is where countries have issues of undernutrition and overweight and obesity; the triple burden adds micronutrient deficiency to that. Most of this burden lies in the tropics and countries in conflict, and since these problems are multi-faceted, they are hard to address and take generations to ameliorate. Countries that suffer acute malnutrition also suffer the impacts of climate change the hardest, but high-income countries are not immune and often have micronutrient deficiency and obesity. These trends are on the rise globally, especially as people become more sedentary and urban. The immediate causes of undernutrition are a lack of food and disease, the intermediate causes are food, care and health, and the basic causes are poverty, education, and women’s empowerment. While most nutritionists focus on disease and a lack of food, to solve the global burden, we have to focus on intermediate and basic causes. To address nutrition, you have to focus on what they call the 1000 days of life, which is the window of opportunity from conception to two years of life in which you can make changes and intervene so that child grows up healthy. If you don’t address the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition, it’s very hard to break it. The fetal origins hypothesis states that children who are born of a low birth weight who are undernourished and then put on rapid weight tend to have a higher risk of obesity as adults.