45 Extraordinary Malnourishment Statistics


Malnourishment happens more often than is realized in the world today. We often speak of addressing world hunger, yet even in wealthy nations, about 1 in 5 children doesn’t have enough food to eat. Unlike hunger, however, malnutrition can also happen when there is food to eat, but not enough of the right kinds of food. The hunger statistics are horrifying enough, but when malnutrition is considered, 1 in 3 kids in developing countries isn’t getting the right foods to eat.

Facts About Malnourishment

1. 70%. That’s the percentage of malnourished children that are currently living in Asia right now.
2. The number of people in the world today that don’t have enough food to live a healthy life: 805 million.
3. 13.5% of the total population in developing countries is malnourished in some way.
4. Malnourishment causes 45% of the deaths of children under the age of 5 in the world today, accounting for over 3 million preventable deaths every year.
5. 100 million children in the world today are believed to be underweight.
6. The percentage of the world’s children who have their growth stunted because they don’t have enough food to eat: 25%.
7. It is believed that if women had the same rights to farm as men around the world, 150 million people would have more to eat.
8. The world currently produces enough food to provide for every person on the planet today.
9. 66 million children attend school without enough food to eat every day. More than one-third of those children are in Africa.
10. To feed the malnourished school-age children, the cost would be just $3.2 billion, or 0.5% of the current US spending on defense/military spending.
11. Since 1990, the amount of undernourished people in the world has dropped by over 200 million individuals.
12. The direct medical cost of hunger and malnutrition is estimated at $30 billion each year.
13. Nearly 98% of worldwide hunger exists in underdeveloped countries.
14. 315,000 mothers die during childbirth because of hemorrhaging complications that are directly attributed to being malnourished.
15. 3.6 seconds. That’s how often 1 person dies because of a lack of food access in the world today. That means 7.6 million people will die because of food access issues this year alone.
16. 1 in 10 American households is considered to be at risk of malnourishment and hunger today.
17. When adults are persistently malnourished, they earn 20% less than adults who have enough of the right foods to eat every day.
18. Up to 3% of a nation’s GDP may be lost because of zinc or iron deficiencies.
19. A $350 million investment in micronutrients to the world’s most malnourished is estimated to result in a $5 billion economic benefit annually.
20. Just $1 that is spent on malnourishment may bring as much as $138 in total benefits.
21. Iodine deficiency is the greatest single cause of mental retardation and brain damage, yet is a common additive to salt.
22. 4%. That’s the percentage of childhood deaths that are directly attributed to zinc deficiencies.
23. More than 1.3 billion people are living on just $1.25 per day. More than 3 billion people in the world today are living off of $2.50 per day.
24. 60% of women go hungry, compared to 40% of men.
25. 1.6 billion people, or a quarter of the entire world’s population, lives without electricity in addition to facing extreme poverty and hardship.
26. 1 in 3 people in the UK who are admitted into a long-term health program are found to either be malnourished or at risk of becoming malnourished in the near future.
27. Malnutrition can cause a person to lose up to 10% of their total body weight within 3 months.
28. It is possible for people to be overweight and malnourished if they are eating high calorie, low nutrition foods.
29. 63. That’s the number of developing nations that have been able to meet the Millennium Development Goal of reducing malnourishment rates within their borders by 50% before the end of 2015.
30. 6 additional nations are expected to meet this goal by the end of 2015.
31. In 2013, 49.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households.
32. Households that are headed by single women with children have the greatest risks of being food insecure, with 1 in 3 single mothers not having enough food to eat for their families.
33. Food insecurity exists in every county in America, with rates as high as 33% of all households in that county.
34. It costs just one US quarter per day to provide a child with all of the vitamins and nutrients he or she needs to grow up healthy.
35. By 2050, 24 million more children may grow up in malnourished environment because of the effects of global warming.
36. Hunger kills more people each year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
37. 1 in 6 children in the world today is considered to be underweight.
38. 80% of the world’s stunted children are living in just 14 countries.
39. A woman’s education contributes 43% toward the reduction of child malnutrition statistics over time, while food availability accounts for an additional 26%.
40. A proper diet in a child’s first 1,000 days of life can provide protections against future incidents of malnutrition.
41. On average, about 35% of infants 0 to 6 months old are exclusively breastfed, relying on the access to nutritional foods that their mother has for survival.
42. There are more hungry people in the world than the combined populations of USA, Canada and the European Union.
43. 65% of the world’s hungry live in 7 nations: India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia.
44. 16,000. That’s the number of children who die every day because of hunger-related issues.
45. The percentage of disease burden in children today that is directly related to malnutrition: 35%.

In basic terms, malnourishment happens when there isn’t enough calories and proteins in an individual’s diet. It may also happen when there is not enough vitamins or minerals in a person’s diet. Although malnutrition can happen to anyone, children are by far the greatest victims of this global problem. Malnourishment accounts for up to 160 days of illness in an affected child every year. The statistics of malnourishment must gain some public transaction so that change can be encouraged.

Malnourishment Is a Global Issue

As a whole, we have become guilty of abandoning those who need the most basic of help. Malnourishment is not an issue that can wait. We cannot afford to wait until tomorrow. We must be able to reach out and help today. Every infant and child has the right to good nutrition according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It’s time we live up to the provision of this very basic human right.

What is even more remarkable is that obesity is killing 3x more people that malnourishment is. We have become a world of extremes. At one end of the spectrum, there are people who cannot find enough to eat. At the other end, there are people who cannot control how much they are eating. Something must change, because if it does not, humanity is never going to reach its full potential.

Change can begin when we realize the pure economics of what solving hunger means. If we invested the $3 billion that was necessary to feed hungry school-aged children every year, then the economic return on that investment could be as high as $414 billion. What could the world do with an extra $414 billion of productivity?

The Time to Act Is Now

Whether it is an American family that is struggling to survive on basic food benefits or an African child who goes to school hungry every day, we need to act now. Hunger should not be affecting us today. The world grows enough food for everyone already. Simple solutions that provide better distribution methods for food products is just one possible way to solve this issue. Just $1 is enough to provide children with the vitamins and minerals that are need for 4 children in the world today.

What did you last spend $1 on? Do you even remember? That $1 per day could save a child’s life. Don’t fall for the lie that you can’t purchase anything worthwhile for that amount today.

The status of a family shouldn’t matter. It is our job as fellow humans to take care of each other, especially when there isn’t enough to eat. Millions are dying every year because they don’t have enough food or the right kinds of food to eat. That’s a sobering thought to have when you’re at the stove, tired after a long day of work, debating about whether or not you even want to cook something.