The Fourth Report on the World Nutrition Situation is part of a series of ACC/SCN reports initiated in the mid-1980s on the nutritional status of populations in developing countries. These reports provide important information for the many individuals, institutions, governments, and nongovernmental organizations working to accelerate nutrition action. While earlier reports have focused on regional trends in preschool undernutrition, this report is built around the theme nutrition throughout the life cycle. This change was signalled, in part, by growing evidence of the linkage between foetal undernutrition and chronic disease later in life, as well as new estimates of the global magnitude of growth retardation during foetal life.
This report highlights the size of the malnutrition problem and its consequences for human and economic development. It stresses the need to move ahead in creative partnerships.
The Fourth Report provides evidence of contrasts - contrasts in the prevalence and trends of malnutrition, contrasts in actions taken, contrasts in progress made, and contrasts in the availability of data on the extent and causes of malnutrition. As Chapter 1 shows, stunting in preschool children is falling globally and is expected to continue to fall over the next five years, reaching 29% in 2005 compared with 47% in 1980. Underweight affects 149.6 million children, or 27% of children in the developing world, down from 37% in 1980. The size of the malnutrition problem is still vast, however, and progress in most regions is all too slow.
National iodization programmes are effective in delivering iodine to whole populations in many countries, offering protection against the devastating consequences of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD). Achievements in Africa are especially encouraging, where on average 63% of people living in countries with IDD now have access to iodized salt. Monitoring and sustainability are now key to long-term success. However, many affected countries still have not launched iodization programmes, and IDD is still a reality for their populations.
While there are many cost-effective approaches to reducing vitamin A deficiency, subclinical deficiency still affects probably up to 250 million preschool children and unknown numbers of school-age children, adolescents, and pregnant women. Subclinical vitamin A deficiency contributes enormously to elevated morbidity and mortality in many age groups.
Iron deficiency remains a huge problem, affecting preschool children and pregnant women in particular. Though it is thought to affect over two-thirds of the developing world, trends are unknown.
The Fourth Report is the result of a successful partnership between the ACC/SCN, the Food Consumption and Nutrition Division of the International Food Policy Research Institute, and the many UN and other agencies that provided access to their data and expertise. Editorial control rests with the ACC/SCN Secretariat.
[Ukrainian] [English] [Russian]