As our stated by our President at the Institute, Dr. Hirakawa, “Malnutrition is recognized in the Millennium Development Goals as among the most serious challenges the global community must address.” 165 million children are undernourished in the world. Intervening in the first years of a child’s life to prevent malnutrition leads to necessary benefits for the rest of the child’s life and for our entire society as a whole. Here are five reasons why advancing the nutritional health of the world’s children will make the world a better place to live:
1) Children Will Stop Dying From Preventable Causes
There are 11 million children that die from diseases like measles, polio, diarrhea, malaria, and pneumonia. What do all of these illnesses have in common? They are preventable, but unfortunately being deficient in essential nutrients such as vitamin A and zinc in the first years of life substantially raises the risk of disease. For example, zinc deficiency is associated with 800,000 childhood deaths a year from diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria. Vitamin A and zinc supplements reduces mortality in children.
2) Children Will Be Able To Grow To Their Full Potential
About one-third of children under five suffer from stunting. When children are plagued by problems such as stunting, iodine deficiency, iron-deficiency, and iron-deficiency anemia, their bodies are unable to develop into the healthy adults that they are intended to be. Iodine deficiencies cause impaired mental development and physical growth and iron deficiency also inhibits physical growth in children. Providing children with essential micro-nutrients at the beginning of life gives them the ability to develop into healthy adults.
3) Children Will Be More Likely To Continue Their Education
Malnutrition affects a child’s performance in school. Children who are stunted are 19% less likely to be able to read by age eight. Due to the cognitive effects of nutrient-deficiencies, children become inattentive and unmotivated. The increased difficulty to learn is discouraging to children. Adults in developing countries only have some primary level education or less because of a loss of interest in continuing their studies as children. The right nutrition provides children with more energy, full functioning brains, and healthy minds that are better suited to learn. This, as a result, can spark a child’s interest in continuing their studies.
4) Overall Economic Progress
Improving nutrition in early childhood in developing countries is a long-term economic investment. If children grow to their full potential, they are able to be productive adults as they will be more physically capable and better educated. For every $1 invested in child nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life, there is a $18 return according to physician Carolyn Wetzel Chen. A child who is suffering from malnutrition will have a 20% reduction in future earnings which means global child malnutrition could cost the global economy $125 billion by 2030. Making sure the world’s children have access to good nutrition will help break the cycle of poverty and malnutrition.
5) An Improved Quality of Life For Children Now And In Future Generations
Our founder, Clay Mathile states, “no child should suffer from the lack of quality food.” The fact that there are millions of children that are suffering from the effects of malnutrition is a devastating injustice. The right to nutritional foods to serve the human body should be established for all. Alleviating childhood malnutrition grants the freedom for individuals to live their lives without being plagued with impaired physical and cognitive growth. This gives adults the potential to be the best version of themselves they can be. Not only will they have an improved quality of life for themselves but for their children, their grandchildren, and subsequent generations to come.
Child malnutrition, like identified above, is a global problem that requires action. By spreading awareness about this particular injustice, we can encourage advances in global nutrition.