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Global Nutrition Report 2018

  • 30 Nov 2018
  • 7 min read
  • In its fifth edition, the Global Nutrition Report highlights the worrying prevalence and universality of malnutrition in all its forms. About a third of the world’s children suffer some form of malnutrition.
  • According to the report there has been some progress in reducing malnutrition, but it has been too slow and not spread across all forms of malnutrition.

Global Nutrition Report

  • This report has been produced by the Independent Expert Group of the Global Nutrition Report, supported by the Global Nutrition Report Stakeholder Group.
  • The Global Nutrition Report was conceived following the first Nutrition for Growth Initiative Summit (N4G) in 2013. The first report was published in 2014.
  • The Global Nutrition Report acts as a report card on the world’s nutrition—globally, regionally, and country by country—and on efforts to improve it.
  • It assesses progress in meeting Global Nutrition Targets established by the World Health Assembly.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is a Global Nutrition Report Partner.

Key Findings

  • Stunting in children under five years of age is declining at a global level but numbers in Africa are increasing.
    • Although, some progress is visible only against stunting, India still holds almost a third of the world's burden for stunting. Of the three countries that are home to almost half (47.2%) of all stunted children, two are in Asia, with India having 46.6 million (31%) and Pakistan having 10.7 million.
  • India also accounted for 25.5 million children who are wasted, followed by Nigeria (3.4 million) and Indonesia (3.3 million). More than half of the world's children impacted by wasting (26.9 million) live in South Asia.
  • Progress in addressing underweight and anaemia among women has been extremely slow while overweight ((body mass index (BMI ≥25) and obesity (BMI ≥30) among adults is getting worse, with higher rates of obesity among women than men. Conversely, diabetes is more common among men than women.
  • India also figures among the set of countries that has more than a million overweight children. The other nations are China, Indonesia, India, Egypt, US, Brazil and Pakistan.
  • Different forms of malnutrition continue to coexist with each other. Of the 141 countries analysed, 88% experience more than one form of malnutrition.
  • In situations of crises arising from conflict, fragility, violence and environmental change there is an urgent need to treat and prevent multiple burdens of malnutrition while also building nutrition resilience.


  • Break down silos between malnutrition in all its forms- Different forms of malnutrition coexist which are being tackled at different rates, vary between populations, and overlap with each other in various ways. Therefore they require integrated approaches and cohesive work to address them.
  • Prioritise and invest in the data and capacity to use them- The efforts made to improve the collection and analysis of diet data must continue, and the gap in micronutrient data must be addressed as a matter of urgency. However, data collection and analysis is not enough, all stakeholders also need the capacity to use it to make evidence-based decisions.
  • Increase financing for nutrition-  Although nutrition financing have increased over the years, especially in developing countries, they are not adequate. Building on this progress, domestic investments must continue to grow and international aid donors must keep investing.
  • Galvanise action on healthy diets- Governments and business need to implement a holistic package of actions to ensure food systems and food environments are delivering healthy diets that are affordable, accessible and desirable for all.


  • Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. It is often split into two broad groups of conditions:
    • Undernutrition, including  stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age) and  micronutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals).
    • Overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, etc.).
  • In April 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition from 2016 to 2025.
  • The Sustainable Development Goal (SD Goal 2: Zero hunger) aims to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, making sure all people – especially children – have access to sufficient and nutritious food all year round. This involves promoting sustainable agricultural practices: supporting small scale farmers and allowing equal access to land, technology and markets.

Way Forward

  • The Global Nutrition Report 2018 finds again that the problem of malnutrition remains severe across all regions and none of the countries are on course to meet all nine global nutrition targets.
  • Malnutrition is responsible for more ill-health than any other cause. The health consequences of being overweight and obese contribute to an estimated four million deaths globally.
  • The issue is not the degree of crises but why are things not better when there is so much more information than before.  Therefore, the commitments designed for impact which can be continuously monitored and deliver will be fit for purpose to end malnutrition in all its forms.
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