The food and nutrition situation in Ecuador are characterised by Dietary Energy Supplies able to cover the requirements of the population. The increase in food production based on improved technology and using available resource, especially water sources.
The nutritional status of the children under five years old reflects the development of the country. The most recent data from the 1998 national survey on living standards, compared with the 1986 DANS Survey, demonstrated a significant reduction in the prevalence of stunting from 34% to 26%, plus the prevalence of underweight decreased from 17% to 14%. Regional differences and especially ethnic differences reflect a high prevalence of undernutrition in indigenous groups.
There are few studies on the nutrition status of adolescents. The First National Census of Stature for Students in 1991, described the problem at different geographical levels and poverty distribution. The only study made in adolescents in 1994, revealed 9% undernourishment and problems of overweight and obesity that would affect 10% of this population, with a greater prevalence in women, and in the coastal region. Although national anthropometric data for adults does not exist, the problem of obesity appears to be increasing according to the data on pregnant women collected by the Ministry of Public Health.
Among the most widespread micronutrient deficiencies, iron deficiency anemia is the most important one and affects all groups. The problem has serious connotations, because the prevalence is higher than 50% in most of the age groups; presenting greater risk in children between 6 months and 2 years, and in pregnant women. Vitamin deficiency A is moderate and the problem of zinc has caused increase concern in the last few years. Iodine deficiency is being controlled thanks to salt fortification, along with regular monitoring and social communication. The Integrated Micronutrient Programme develops strategies of fortification, supplementation and nutrition education to deal with these deficiencies.
The food and nutrition situation in Ecuador reflects its' socio-economic reality; the production potential, the capacity to transport and to commercialise foods that satisfy the nutritional requirements at all population levels. Food production and the yield of main consumption products and their relation to the market are important to establish the potential that food and nutrition security offer to the Ecuadorian society as a development strategy. A national policy of food security to integrate the farming development with new initiatives of rural development, food supplementation and micronutrients along with education and active community communication will help in the fight against hunger.