UNICEF released its flagship report, The State of the World’s Children (SOWC) in Kolkata. This year the focus of the SOWC report is on Children, Food and Nutrition, given the importance of healthy diets, especially among children and young people. The report says that poor diets are damaging children’s health, and that poverty, urbanization, climate change and poor eating choices driving unhealthy diets.
At present, the world is facing a triple burden of malnutrition: acute and chronic undernutrition, overweight and hidden hunger – or deficiencies of vitamins and mineral. The SOWC report calls for a shift in the way we address and respond to malnutrition: It is not just about giving children enough food to eat – it is mostly about giving them the right food to eat.
Dr. Shashi Panja, Minister of State, Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, who was the chief guest at this event and formally released this report shared, “While there has progress in reduction in malnutrition, overweight and obesity is increasingly becoming a growing threat of non-communicable diseases like diabetes in school-aged children and adolescents.
“The report we have released provides a comprehensive assessment of 21st century child malnutrition in all its forms. Children across the world are facing a triple burden of malnutrition in the form of undernutrition (stunting and wasting), hidden hunger (deficiencies in micronutrients) and overweight (including obesity). Despite all the technological, cultural and social advances of the last few decades, we have lost sight of this most basic fact: If children eat poorly, they live poorly,” said Mr. Mohammad Mohiuddin, Chief, UNICEF Office for West Bengal.
To address these issues, the State Government of West Bengal and UNICEF are working together to implement the five-step agenda:
1. Empowering families, children and young people to demand nutritious food, including by improving nutrition education.
2. Driving food suppliers to do the right thing for children, by incentivizing the provision of healthy, convenient and affordable foods.
3. Building healthy food environments for children and adolescents by using proven approaches, such as accurate and easy-to-understand labelling and stronger controls on the marketing of unhealthy foods.
4. Collecting, analyzing and using good-quality data and evidence to guide action and track progress.
5. Strengthening collaborations with nutrition and agricultural institutions and academia, civil society organizations, pediatricians, corporates and others.
Dr. Panja also added, “The way we understand and respond to malnutrition needs to change: It is not just about getting children enough to eat; it is above all about getting them the right food to eat. That is our common challenge today. The good news is, our already has the programmes and schemes in place that provide the necessary package of both nutrition specific and sensitive interventions.”