Acute Malnutrition Around the World
On a world map, areas prone to deadly outbreaks of malnutrition often overlap areas of war and conflict, but nutritional emergencies are just as likely to occur as seasonal phenomenon in more stable regions. Agricultural communities, for example, are routinely exposed to seasonal hunger during the annual hunger gap, that predictable period when a family’s food stocks run out before new harvests are available—a seasonal predicament that results in life-threatening malnutrition among young children across the globe.
Add climatic shocks, shifting weather patterns, political upheavals, and instability in global commodity markets and these patterns grow more complex, but their outcomes are still largely predictable.
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Hunger, or undernutrition, results from the insufficient intake of macro- and micro-nutrients. It can lead to chronic malnutrition (i.e. stunting) or the severe wasting associated with acute malnutrition.
Acute malnutrition is the more immediate killer: It afflicts 55 million children worldwide—19 million of whom face outright starvation—and results in some 3.5 million deaths each year. This loss of life is all the more tragic because acute malnutrition is predictable, treatable, and cost-effective to treat.