43% Nepali children below five years are malnourished: UNICEF

Published On: October 16, 2019 07:32 AM NPT By: Priyanka Adhikari

KATHMANDU, Oct 16: Around 43 percent children under the age of five are malnourished in Nepal, according to a report published by UNICEF. 

The report entitled ‘The State of World’s Children 2019: Children, Food and Nutrition’ states that 43 percent of children under five years are either stunted or wasted or overweight in Nepal. 

The report states one in every two Nepali children under two years of age is eating a poor diet. 

While the report states nearly half of the children in Nepal are malnourished, it shows obesity among children and adolescents has increased in recent years. According to the report, obesity among children and adolescents (between the age of 5 and 19) has increased by 29 times in the past four decades globally. 

“Today, one in 13 children and adolescents of this age are obese in Nepal. Overweight and obesity increases with wealth and household food security. This means, children in wealthy and urban families have more prevalence of obesity,” states the report. 

Globally, at least one in three children under five – or over 200 million – is either undernourished or overweight, according to the report. 

“Almost 2 in 3 children between six months and two years of age are not fed food that supports their rapidly growing bodies and brains. This puts them at risk of poor brain development, weak learning, low immunity, increased infections and, in many cases, death,” it states. 

Government officials, however, said they are not convinced with the findings of the UNICEF report. “Although I haven’t gone through the report, it is really hard to be convinced that 43% of children in Nepal are malnourished,” said Krishna Prasad Bhusal, spokesperson at the Department of Children under the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens. 

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore has stressed the need of eating a balanced diet.

“It is not just about getting children enough to eat, it’s all about getting them the right food to eat. That is our common challenge today,” said Fore. 

According to the UNICEF, under-nutrition, hunger caused by lack of essential nutrients, and overweight among children under the age of five are the major causes of malnutrition in children. 

It has been estimated that 1.1 million children are stunted or too short for their age. Nearly 290,000 children are wasted, or too thin for their height. One in two children among 1.3 million children suffer from deficiencies of essential vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin A and iron and approximately 36,000 children are overweight or obese.

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