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13 Million Nigerian Children Too Short For Their Age, 2.9 Million Are Wasted -Report

Published by Sahara Reporters on Thu, 17 Oct 2019

PM NewsAn alarmingly high number of children are suffering the consequencesof poor diets and a food system that is failing them, UNICEF warns ina new report.The latest report was on children, food and nutrition, and as theUnited Nations and partners commemorate World Food Day.The State of the World's Children 2019: Children, food and nutritionfinds that at least 1 in 3 children under five ' or 200 million ' iseither undernourished or overweight. Almost 2 in 3 children betweensix months and two years of age are not fed food that supports theirrapidly growing bodies and brains. This puts them at risk of poorbrain development, weak learning, low immunity, increased infectionsand, in many cases, death.The report provides the most comprehensive assessment yet of21st-century child malnutrition in all its forms. It describes atriple burden of malnutrition: undernutrition, hidden hunger caused bya lack of essential nutrients, and overweight among children under theage of five, noting that around the world: 149 million children arestunted, or too short for their age, including 13.1 million childrenin Nigeria; 50 million children are wasted, or too thin for theirheight, including 2.9 million children in Nigeria.The report warned that poor eating and feeding practices start fromthe earliest days of a child's life.Though breastfeeding can save lives, for example, in Nigeria, only 27percent of children under six months of age are exclusively breastfedand an increasing number of children are fed infant formula.This means many Nigerian children are missing out on the life-savingbenefits of breastmilk which is a baby's first vaccine and offers thebest possible nutrition at the start of life.In Nigeria, malnutrition remains a major public health and developmentconcern:49 percent of children under five years of age are not growingwell (they are either stunted, wasted or overweight).This is the second-highest proportion after the Democratic Republic ofCongo in the West and Central Africa region.This is partly because 34 percent of children between six months andtwo years of age are fed food that is not rich and diversified enoughto ensure optimal growth.As children begin transitioning to soft or solid foods around thesix-month mark, too many are introduced to the wrong kind of diet,according to the report.As children grow older, their exposure to unhealthy food becomesalarming, driven largely by inappropriate marketing and advertising,the abundance of ultra-processed foods in cities but also in remoteareas, and increasing access to fast food and highly sweetenedbeverages.The report also noted that climate-related disasters cause severe food crises.Drought, for example, is responsible for 80 percent of damage andlosses in agriculture globally, dramatically altering what food isavailable to children and families, as well as the quality and priceof that food; Nigeria is also affected by climate change.To address the growing malnutrition crisis in all its forms, UNICEF isissuing an urgent appeal to the government, the private sector,donors, parents, families, and businesses to help children growhealthy by: "Investing more resources in interventions aimed atpreventing malnutrition among young children and supporting treatmentwhen prevention fails."Supporting nursing mothers to adequately feed and care for their children."Empowering families, children and young people to demand nutritiousfood, including by improving nutrition education and using provenlegislation ' such as sugar taxes ' to reduce demand for unhealthyfoods."Driving food suppliers to do the right thing for children, byincentivizing the provision of healthy, convenient and affordablefoods."It added: "Building healthy food environments for children andadolescents by using proven approaches, such as accurate andeasy-to-understand labelling and stronger controls on the marketing ofunhealthy foods."Mobilizing supportive systems ' health, water and sanitation,education and social protection ' to scale up nutrition results forall children."Collecting, analyzing and using good-quality data and evidence toguide action and track progress."PUBLIC HEALTHNewsReportsAddThis:Original Author:SaharaReporters, New YorkDisable advertisements:
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