Unicef: only one in six children under 2 years receive sufficient nutrientsMillions of young children do not develop all their physical and intellectual potential because they receive little food and too late.
Only one in six children under 2 years receive food in sufficient quantity and diversity for age, leaving the remaining risk of irreversible physical and mental damage. The conclusion is a United Nations Fund for Children report (Unicef), released today (14).
“Babies and young children have greater need of nutrients than at any other stage of life. But millions of young children do not develop all their physical and intellectual potential because they receive little food and too late”, disse France Begin, senior adviser for UNICEF Nutrition issues, cited in organization note. She warns that “poor nutrition in such a tender age cause irreversible mental and physical damage”.
Called From the first hour of life, the report shows a world in which a healthy diet is out of reach for most. The data shows that the late introduction of solid foods, the reduced number of meals and the lack of variety of foods are widespread practices in the world, depriving children of essential nutrients when the brain, the bones and the physical most in need.
Indeed, while the solids are to be introduced from 6 months old, one third of all children in the world only starts to eat them too late and one in five babies only start receiving solid food after 11 months.
Only 52% Children between 6 e 23 months receive the minimum number of daily meals for their age and food diversity is another problem: less than half of children receive daily food of at least four different groups.
Between the 6 and 11 months, age in which nutrition is most important, the situation is even more worrying: only 20% They receive four different groups food per day, which causes deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.
The UNICEF report also refers to breastfeeding, that according to the World Health Organization recommendations should be the exclusive way of feeding infants to the 6 months.
According to data, only 45% of 140 million babies born in 2015 They were breastfed in the first hour of life, as recommended, and three out of five babies under 6 months do not receive the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding.
According to the report, almost half of the children in preschool age suffer from anemia and half of children between 6 and 11 months does not receive any kind of animal food.
UNICEF also warns inequalities: in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, only one in six children in the poorest households aged 6 and 11 months have a minimally diversified diet, compared to one in three of the richest households.
The organization points out that improving the nutrition of children could save 100 thousand lives a year, but remember that families, but do the best with the resources they have access to, They can not do it all alone. It takes the leadership of governments and contributions to society of key sectors to provide a healthy diet for children, says report.
Make cheaper and affordable nutritious food to the poorest children requires consistent investment and directed by governments and the private sector. Transfers in cash or in kind for vulnerable families, diversification programs of crops and the enrichment of staple foods are essential to improve the nutrition of children.
Community health services, with ability to help teach caregivers better eating practices, as well as water and sanitation appropriate - essential for the prevention of diseases such as diarrhea - are equally essential.
“We can not afford failure in the fight to improve the nutrition of children. Their ability to grow, learn and contribute to the future of their country depends on it”, France concluded Begin.