The UN says hundreds of millions are at risk following limited progress being made in addressing the multiple forms of malnutrition, ranging from child stunting to adult obesity.
This was made known in the 2018 edition of the global report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition.
The report said nearly 151 million children younger than five were too short for their age due to malnutrition in 2017, compared with 165 million in 2012.
Globally, Africa and Asia accounted for 39 percent and 55 percent of all stunted children respectively.
The report said malnutrition in all its forms is not limited to hunger, but also micronutrient deficiencies, as well as overweight and obesity.
The report discovered that 821 million people one in every nine were malnourished in 2017, up from 815 million in 2016, putting at risk the UN’s goal of eradicating hunger globally by 2030.
According to the report, hunger is on the rise over the past three years, returning to levels from a decade ago.
“This reversal in progress sends a clear warning that more must be done and urgently if the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ‘Zero Hunger’ is to be achieved by 2030,” it said.
“The report describes as “shameful” the fact that one in three women of reproductive age globally is affected by anaemia, which has significant health and development consequences for both women and their children.
“No region has shown a decline in anaemia among women of reproductive age, and the prevalence in Africa and Asia is nearly three times higher than in North America.”
The report confirmed that obesity is on the rise and adult obesity is worsening, and more than one in eight adults in the world is obese.
It showed that the problem is most significant in North America, but Africa and Asia are also experiencing an upward trend.
“Under-nutrition and obesity coexist in many countries, and can even be seen side by side in the same household,” it said.
“Poor access to nutritious food due to its higher cost, the stress of living with food insecurity, and physiological adaptations to food deprivation help explain why food-insecure families may have a higher risk of overweight and obesity.”
The report recommended that as solutions to hunger and all forms of malnutrition, there must be immediate focus on ensuring an adequate supply of food, but equally, on the quality of diets.