The nutritional status of children under 5 years old allows for Venezuela to be placed in the low or acceptable range, defined by the international parameters, such as in 1999 with 4.7% of underweight, 13.6% of stunting and 3% of wasting. From 1990-1999 there was a decrease in the prevalence of the weight for height ratio until 1993 and then it stabilised. However, indicators of weight for age and height for age, from 1993-97, showed a slight increase. The prevalence of overweight follows an inverse progression: increasing until 1993-94 and then stabilising by 1994 (2.9-3%). This indicates that the rates of wasting and overweight have stabilised, yet stunting, although marginal must be monitored. The areas more affected by the stunting and wasting in the poorest and less densely populated areas are Amacuro Delta (30%), Amazon (24%), followed closely by Worries (18%), and Bolivar (17%). These data have been collected from the System Monitoring of Food and Nutrition or SISVAN (a network of nutritional monitoring of the country operating at the level of the local health centres) by means of important amounts of data that are regularly collected. They show general tendencies and identify vulnerable areas.

The national food consumption survey of 1981-82 shows significant disparities between the socioeconomic groups: the poorest generally have a smaller consumption of energy and consume less foods of animal origin. At the regional level, the Andean region consumes the least amount of energy, protein and fats.

For adolescents, the distribution of the Body Mass Index (BMI) shows a satisfactory anthropometric state among females, whereas men had a tendency to be deficient. The average height and the BMI are negatively associated with socioeconomic levels. For adults from 20-50 years of age BMI did not show variations between sexes. Although, greater proportions of the BMI below 18.5kg/mē were found among younger adults, whereas older adults had a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity. Altogether, 5% of adults were chronically energy deficient and approximately 30% were overweight with a 6% rate of obesity. The tendency of obesity is an increasing phenomenon with rapid urbanisation in Latin America. It must be noted that data for adolescents and adults dates back to the 1980's, a period previous to the Venezuelan crisis.

The main micronutrient deficiency is that of iron. Anaemia by iron deficiency predominantly affects the poor groups and the rural areas. The recent increase of anaemia between the urban populations is partly due to structural changes in food availability and in the deterioration of observed dietetic consumption patterns during the last decade. From 1999 Venezuela reached the indicators to be declared a country virtually free of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD), after specifically fulfilling a program of salt iodisation and control of iodine in the urine among the scholastic population in organizations identified with goitre endemic (Andean Region.

The indicated dimension of poverty for the food and nutrition situation of Venezuela is partly due to the result of the deterioration of the socioeconomic atmosphere that followed the petroleum crisis of the 1979: Inflation levels increased considerably whereas the spending power of the population decreased. Between 1990-96 the HDI decreased from 0.8210 to 0.6912 and 0.9628 to 0.4767.

© FAO 2010