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World Hunger Among Children: Key Facts and Statistics


World hunger is a serious problem that persists to this day. In the year 2000, important world leaders came together and joined the United Nations in committing to complete the eight Millennium Development Goals, one of which was “eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.” Despite the significant progress done in the past years in reducing world hunger, childhood hunger is still rampant across the globe. This article will highlight some key facts about hunger, how it is affecting children around the globe, and some important world child hunger statistics too.

Definitions of Hunger and World Hunger

Hunger is defined as a short-term weakness or physical discomfort which can be a result of a chronic food shortage and is paired with a strong desire to eat. Meanwhile, World Hunger refers to hunger that is aggregated to a global level. Terms such as food insecurity and malnutrition are also used with World Hunger. Malnutrition is a serious health condition that results from a severe lack of intake of essential nutrients that the body needs. Malnutrition can refer to both overnutrition and undernutrition but the main focus of world hunger is the latter.

 

Two Types of Malnutrition

  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition (PEM)

PEM refers to the lack of proteins and calories. Your body needs food to convert to energy, this energy that is contained in food is measured by calories. The more calories the food contains; the more potential energy your body can receive. Protein is a vital part of maintaining proper body functions such as the development and maintenance of your muscles. Protein-Energy Malnutrition (PEM) is the main type of malnutrition that is often discussed when talking about world hunger. PEM can cause severe growth failures especially in children and is more lethal.

 

  • Micronutrient Deficiency

Micronutrient Deficiency refers to the insufficient intake of important vitamins and minerals that provide the body with numerous benefits. Micronutrient Deficiency isn’t as talked about as PEM during world hunger discussions, but it is still very important. Three crucial micronutrients deficiencies that can cause serious consequences for individuals in struggling countries/communities are as follows:

 

  1. Vitamin A - deficiency can lessen the body’s ability to fight diseases and can also heavily impair the growth of children.
  2. Iron - consequences of iron deficiency include impaired cognitive and physical development of children and an increased risk of contracting illnesses.
  3. Iodine - one of the main causes of poor cognitive development in children is Iodine deficiency. Iodized salt has been used to assist iodine-deficient areas around the globe. Countries with Iodine deficiency problems have been halved in the past decade. Despite this though, 54 countries are still battling the problem.

  

Child Hunger in the World

The horrible consequences of malnutrition are most visible in children. Undernutrition is estimated to be the cause of millions of child deaths every year.  Both poverty and hunger form a destructive cycle where hunger impedes the cognitive and physical development of a child and even adults. Thus, hunger contributes to poverty due to people not being able to lead a productive life which then leads to even more hunger.

Below are some world hunger statistics over time.

 

  • In 2016, 5.6 million children under the age of five died due to malnutrition, with nearly 15,000 daily deaths. The area with the highest risk of children under five dying is in Africa.
  • Malnourished children suffer a total of 160 days of illnesses every year. This is because undernutrition severely magnifies the effects of numerous illnesses such as malaria and measles.
  • Hunger is greatly impacting children’s ability to learn in developing countries. Estimates from 2012 report that 66 million primary school-age children attend their classes on empty stomachs.
  • According to the world hunger statistics 2020, the food production around the world is more than enough to sufficiently feed the whole population of the globe, yet 690 million people are still suffering from hunger every day.
  • The progress of fighting world hunger has decreased in recent years. About 8.9% of people in the world today are affected. The number of people who suffer from undernutrition increased by 10 million from 2018-2019.
  • There are more undernourished people now than in 2014, about 60 million more.
  • Even though small fishermen, farmers, and herders contribute up to 70% of the world’s supply, they are the highest risk of experiencing poverty, food insecurity, and hunger. Rural populations are highly vulnerable.
  • Reports estimate that about 14 million children who are aged five and under suffer from severe wasting also known as severe acute malnutrition. Only 25% of these cases have access to much-needed lifesaving treatments.

 

What are the Causes of World Hunger?

Poverty

Many factors contribute to world hunger, but the principal cause is poverty. People and families living in poverty-stricken areas consistently battle food insecurity; do not have access to safe drinking water, good sanitation practices; and have little to zero access to healthcare services and proper education. All of these heavily contribute to hunger.  Hunger and poverty are intertwined in a cycle of destruction.

 

Conflict

Another major cause of world hunger children and even poverty is huge violent conflicts. According to a report in 2017, about half of all hungry people in the world reside in conflict-stricken countries. These conflicts negatively affect and even outright destroy a community’s food systems leaving the members with no food and driving up the food prices in the market which then makes it extremely difficult to buy necessary foods.

Climate Change

Climate-related disasters are increasing due to the rise of climate change. These disasters destroy a community’s food system and increase their risk of hunger. Climate change means that droughts, storms, and floods are occurring more and more in regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Conclusion

To conclude, world hunger is a tough battle we are still facing to this day. As you can see with the world child hunger statistics provided above. Even though we have made amazing progress, there is still much to do to completely eradicate this problem. If you desire to help these people and do your part in the fight, multiple organizations are accepting donations to help feed the children who need it the most.