The United Nations’ Children’s Agency twenty years ago sampled youngsters diet across the world. The Agency concluded that malnutrition contributed to more than half of all child deaths. A similar report has been documented by UNICEF concerning food. The improvement in the economy in most parts of the world compared to the time the sample was taken has made the recently published report by the Agency took a new turn.
The Agency report stated that Children are getting either too little of the food they need or too much of the food they do not. The number of overweight adolescents is particularly shocking. Since the 1970s there has been a 10- to 12-fold rise in obesity among those aged 10 to 19. In poor countries, it is relatively well-off who tend to suffer. In rich ones, it is often poorer children who carry excessive weight.
In America, for example, nearly one in five youngsters in low-income households are obese, compared with just one in ten in high-income ones. Low and middle-income countries are catching up with their richer counterparts, is this a result of food? Disturbingly, even the youngest are affected. Since 2000, the number of overweight children under five around the world has increased by 44%.
In its annual report released Tuesday, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) warns that poor eating and feeding practices start from the earliest days of a child’s life. As children grow older, UNICEF says, “Their exposure to unhealthy food becomes alarming.” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore told the Associated Press that “despite all the technological advances of the last few decades, we have lost sight of this most basic fact: If children eat poorly, they live poorly.”