Global Food

Photo @ Bart Verweij/World Bank

The global food crisis disproportionately impacted vulnerable children in low- and middle-income countries. As food prices rise, families significantly reduce the amount of food they eat and particularly reduce the consumption of more costly nutrient-dense foods such as animal source foods, pulses, and vegetables—leading to a rise in all forms of malnutrition (micronutrient deficiencies, stunting, wasting, low BMI, overweight). Food crises particularly affect vulnerable pregnant and lactating women and children given their high overall nutrient needs, with devastating consequences on survival, health, and well-being that reverberate for generations.

Generating Evidence and Sounding the Alarm on Global Malnutrition

Not much is known of the impact of global inflationary food prices on child malnutrition. To address this gap, ST4N researchers developed a model to analyze the historical impact to support policy recommendations for mitigation.

Drawing on data from 130 Demographic Health Surveys conducted in 44 countries between 2000 to 2021, the research showed that, on average, a 5% increase in the real price of food increases the risk of wasting by 9%. The most vulnerable are low-income households and rural children, especially those who live in households without land. This research was published a Nature Communications article in April 2022 titled, “Economic shocks predict increases in child wasting prevalence,” and in November 2022 in an IFPRI Discussion Paper, “Food Inflation and Child Undernutrition in Low and Middle Income Countries”.

Food Inflation and Child Undernutrition in Low and Middle Income Countries

Increase in Food Prices
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Increase in Risk of Child Wasting
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The evidence on the link between high food price crises and child wasting supports the need to scale-up nutrition investments and humanitarian actions during periods of rapid food inflation. We must protect and nourish the most vulnerable mothers and children experiencing high levels of food and nutrition insecurity. Achieving progress towards global nutrition targets, including the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, will ultimately depend on our ability to strengthen the nutrition resilience of communities and nations.

Global Food Crisis Impact on Child Wasting
in Vulnerable Communities

 Photo @ European Union /Samuel Ochai

Economic Shocks Predict Increases in Child Wasting Prevalence

The Global Food Crisis' Inequitable Impact on Women and Girls

Photo @ Spratt

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