Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), 19-21 November 2014

Why nutrition matters

Malnutrition is defined as “an abnormal physiological condition caused by inadequate, unbalanced or excessive consumption of the macronutrients that provide dietary energy (carbohydrates, protein and fats) and the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that are essential for physical and cognitive growth and development”. It manifests in many forms, including undernourishment and undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and overnutrition and obesity.

Malnutrition does not stop at hunger. Especially for children, the long-term effects of malnutrition include both physical and cognitive stunting, preventing them from reaching their full potential in school. This in turn affects future job and income opportunities, thus perpetuating a cycle of poverty and slowing the economic development of the community.

Child and maternal malnutrition and underweight remain the leading nutrition-related health burdens in the world, with 162 million children are stunted due to chronic malnutrition. At the same time, the global prevalence of overweight and obesity has risen across all regions— it is estimated that obesity currently affects around half a billion adults..

FAO advocates for a holistic approach to addressing malnutrition, incorporating explicit nutrition objectives into agriculture, health, education, economic and social protection policies in developing and developed countries.