by Amit Kapoor and Mukul Anand
Malnutrition extends beyond mere hunger and affects every country worldwide, presenting one of the greatest global health challenges. It encompasses diverse conditions, including undernutrition (wasting, stunting, underweight), deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals, overweight, obesity, and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). (Branca, 2017)
Malnutrition is a distressing condition that affects millions of people worldwide, with severe consequences on physical, mental, and emotional health. Physically, malnutrition can lead to stunting, wasting, and micronutrient deficiencies, hindering growth and development, impairing learning abilities, and impacting productivity. Mentally, malnutrition can cause depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment, affecting social interactions and problem-solving abilities. Emotionally, it may lead to feelings of shame, isolation, and hopelessness, making it challenging for individuals to cope with daily challenges and thrive in their communities.
Despite efforts to combat malnutrition, it continues to be a major public health concern specifically in LMICs. Since the late 2000s, micronutrient-related malnutrition, a component of the broader “triple burden of malnutrition,” has garnered significant attention. Micronutrient deficiencies alone have been estimated to cause an annual gross domestic product loss of 2% to 5% in LMICs, with direct costs amounting to around US$20 to US$30 billion per year (Osendarp, et al., 2018). As of 2021, approximately 2.3 billion people, accounting for nearly 29.3% of the global population, experienced moderate to severe food insecurity, marking an increase from 25.4% before the pandemic (2022 Global Nutrition Report: Stronger commitments for greater action, 2022).
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