According to the World Health Organization, Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excessive or imbalance in a person’s energy intake or nutrients.
It includes Two broad terms:
- The first term undernutrition includes Stunting(low height for age), wasting(low weight for height), Underweight( Low weight for age), and micronutrients
- The second one overweight includes obesity and diet-related Non-communicable diseases(Stroke, diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer).
The situation in Pakistan:
Pakistan is on course to meet the global targets for under-five overweight and infant exclusive breastfeeding but is of course to meet the targets for all other indicators analyzed with adequate data. There is insufficient target data to assess Pakistan’s progress for low birth weight. According to UNICEF, Nearly 10 million Pakistani children suffer from stunting.
- Only38% of children are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. As a result, more than half the children under five years of age are deficient in vitamin A.
- 40 %are deficient in both zinc and vitamin D, and nearly 62 % are anemic.
- 8 out of 10children in Pakistan do not eat the right type and quantity of food.
As of 2018, the national prevalence of under-five overweight is 2.5%, which has decreased slightly from 4.8% in 2013. The national prevalence of under-five stunting is 37.6%, which is greater than the developing country average of 25%. Conversely, Pakistan’s under-five wasting prevalence of 7.1% is less than the developing country average of 8.9%.
- In Pakistan, 5%of infants under 6 months are exclusively breastfed, this is well below the Southern Asia average of 54.2%. There is insufficient data on low birth weight.
- Pakistan’s adult population also faces a malnutrition burden.
- 1%of women of reproductive age have anemia, and 12.6% of adult men have diabetes, compared to 12.1% of women. Meanwhile, 11.3% of women and 6% of men have obesity.
UNICEF’s work in nutrition is supporting our mandate to protect child rights, in particular the right to adequate nutrition, as well as children’s right to develop to their full potential.
In so doing, nutrition interventions are also positively affecting both child survival and child development, with a focus on the critical first years of life. UNICEF is working closely with federal and provincial governments at all levels to support national and provincial priorities and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets, including SDGs linked to health and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
In the future, UNICEF will work with partners to focus on the most vulnerable children, using cross-sectoral platforms such as Early Childhood Development (ECD) and the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) initiative.
Furthermore, To solve the problems causing malnutrition among Pakistani children, the following measures are suggested:
1. Various methods like the use of fertilizers would give a better crop.
2. Policies should be made by the government to provide food security to the masses.
3. The educational programs should be planned that elucidate the importance of various components in a child\\\’s diet and also inform people about cheaper food alternatives that can provide them with vital nutrients.
Controlling the growth of the population and providing family planning guidance will lead to more food availability.
MPhil Scholar (Human Nutrition&Dietetics).
The University Of Agriculture Faisalabad.