Child Food Poverty: An Early Childhood Nutrition Crisis – 2024 Report In Child Nutrition [EN/AR/PT/RU] – World


1 in 4 children worldwide live in severe child food poverty due to inequality, conflict and climate crises – UNICEF

Children suffering from this level of food poverty are up to 50 per cent more likely to suffer from life-threatening malnutrition, new analysis finds

NEW YORK, 6 June 2024 – Around 181 million children under the age of 5 worldwide – or 1 in 4 – suffer from severe child food poverty, making them up to 50 percent more likely to they will experience wasting, a life-threatening form of malnutrition. , a new UNICEF report reveals today.

For the first time, Child Food Poverty: Nutritional Deprivation in Early Childhood analyzes the impacts and causes of food deprivation among the world’s youngest people in almost 100 countries, and across income groups. It warns that millions of children under the age of five are unable to access and consume a nutritious, varied diet to support optimal growth and development in early childhood and beyond.

Children who eat, at most, two out of eight defined food groups are considered to be in extreme child food poverty. Four out of five children in this situation are fed only breast milk/milk and/or a starchy staple, such as rice, maize or wheat. Less than 10 percent of these children get to eat fruits and vegetables. And less than 5 percent are fed nutrient-dense foods such as eggs, fish, poultry, or meat.

“Children living in severe food poverty are children on the margins. Currently, that is the reality for millions of young children, and this can have an irreversible negative impact on survival, growth and brain development,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “Children who eat only two food groups a day, such as rice and some milk, are up to 50 percent more likely to develop severe forms of malnutrition.”

The report warns that while countries are still recovering from the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of growing inequality, conflicts and the climate crisis have pushed food prices and the cost of living to record levels. highest ever.

Of the 181 million children living in extreme food poverty, 65 percent live in just 20 countries. There are approximately 64 million affected children in South Asia, and 59 million in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In Somalia, a country affected by conflict, drought and floods, 63 percent of children live in severe child food poverty and in the most vulnerable communities, more than 80 percent of caregivers reported that their child was unable to eat on for a whole day. .

In the Gaza Strip, the food and health systems have deteriorated over months of warfare and restrictions on humanitarian aid, with devastating consequences for children and their families. Five rounds of data collected between December 2023 and April 2024 consistently found that 9 out of 10 children in the Gaza Strip suffer from severe food poverty, living on two or less food groups per day. This is evidence of the devastating impact that conflict and restrictions have on families’ ability to meet children’s food needs – and the speed at which it puts children at risk of life-threatening malnutrition.

The report found that almost half (46 per cent) of all cases of severe child food poverty are among poor households where income poverty is likely to be the main driver, and that 54 per cent – ​​or 97 million children – living in relatively wealthy families, among them. poor food environments and feeding practices are the main drivers of food poverty in early childhood.

A number of factors are driving the child food poverty crisis, including food systems that do not provide nutritious, safe and accessible options for children, family inability to afford nutritious food, and parental inability to adopt and sustain positive child feeding practices. In many contexts, cheap, low-nutrition and unhealthy ultra-processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages are aggressively marketed to parents and families and are child-feeding habitats. An alarming proportion of young children who suffer from food poverty are consuming these unhealthy foods and drinks, removing more nutritious and healthy foods from their daily diets.

At the same time, there was significant success. For example, Burkina Faso has halved the rate of food poverty for children from 67 percent (2010) to 32 percent (2021). Nepal has reduced the rate of severe child food poverty from 20 percent (2011) to 8 percent (2022). Peru has kept the rate below 5 percent since 2014 amid a long period of economic decline, while Rwanda reduced the rate from 20 percent (2010) to 12 percent (2020).

To end child food poverty, UNICEF urgently calls on governments, development and humanitarian organisations, donors, civil society and the food and drink industry to:

  • Transforming food systems so that nutritious, varied and healthy foods are the most accessible, affordable and desirable choice for caregivers to feed young children.
  • Leverage health systems to deliver essential nutrition services to prevent and treat early childhood malnutrition, including support for community health and nutrition workers to advise parents and families on nutrition and child care practices .
  • Activating social protection systems to address income poverty through social transfers (cash, food and vouchers), in ways that respond to the food and nutrition needs of vulnerable children and their families.

To accelerate actions to prevent, detect and treat child food poverty and malnutrition, UNICEF launched the Child Nutrition Fund (CNF) last year, with the support of the UK Commonwealth and Overseas Development Office (FCDO), Bill and Melinda Gates. Foundation, and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). The CNF is a multi-stakeholder funding mechanism led by UNICEF that encourages domestic investments to end child malnutrition. UNICEF is urging governments, donors and financial partners to support the CNF and prioritize sustainable policies and practices to end extreme child food poverty and malnutrition.


Categories of child food poverty

If children are fed:
0–2 food groups/day, they are living in severe child food poverty,

3–4 food groups/day, they are living in moderate child food poverty,

5 or more food groups/day, they are not living in child food poverty.

Media contacts

Nadia Samie-Jacob


Tel: +1 845 760 2615


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *