Children – and countries – need proper nutrition to grow and develop. Good food does more than keep children alive and well. It also allows them to learn, play, participate and contribute to their world. But under-nutrition, when children don’t get enough nutrient-dense food, remains a major public health problem. This is especially true in many low- and middle-income countries.
Childhood stunting is a situation where under nutrition has left a child too short for his or her age. Stunting in children younger than five can have a long-term effect on physical development, cognitive development, educational performance and economic productivity in adulthood. It affects women’s ability to give birth to normal weight children. Stunting also holds back the productivity of nations and creates economic and social challenges among vulnerable groups. This waste of potential in individuals and countries can be prevented, as long as the causes are properly understood and addressed. The United Nations’ goal is to end malnutrition by 2030. Before that, by 2025, it aims to achieve “internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under five years of age”.
My research on child under nutrition examined factors associated with stunting and severe stunting among children under five in Nigeria. The percentage of Nigeria’s children with stunting has remained unchanged since 2013: it is a shocking 37 per cent. Globally, stunting has declined from 32.5 per cent to 21.9 per cent between 2000 and 2018. But this decline is not equal across regions and countries. One-third of all undernourished children live in sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria has one of the highest prevalence’ rate of under nutrition in the region.
The situation in Nigeria: According to the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey report, 37 per cent of Nigerian children aged between 6 and 59 months are stunted (short for their age); 7 per cent are wasted (thin for their height); 22 per cent are underweight (thin for their age); and 2 per cent are overweight (heavy for their height). Relief News