Understanding malnutrition

Where poverty persists, malnutrition and hunger exist. A common misconception is that malnutrition and hunger are the same. While they can certainly go hand-in-hand, malnutrition is when an individual doesn’t get the nutrients they need to thrive, which can have serious lifelong consequences.

Beyond inhibiting physical growth, malnutrition keeps the brain from developing to its full potential, which makes it harder for individuals to learn. In turn, malnourished children often don't earn as much in adulthood. It also weakens the immune system, making children more susceptible to disease, which puts an extra strain on their already-weak bodies. Immediate intervention is critical to putting an end to the devastating effects malnutrition can have on a child’s life.

Malnutrition manifests in a few different ways:

"Stunting" is used to describe a child that is too short for his or her age, a result of poor nutrition during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, causing irreversible damage to a child’s physical and cognitive development.
"Wasting" is used to describe a child that is too thin for his or her height. This weakens the immune system and increases the risk of death.
"Overweight" is used to describe a child whose weight is more than it should be for his or her height. While it may seem counterintuitive, this is an indication that the child is getting more food than they need, but not enough vitamins and minerals. This increases the risk of diet-related diseases in their adult life.

Malnutrition is just one of many issues our programs are designed to address, but not all children receiving benefits are identified as malnourished. Today, Zambia and India are among the greatest risk of the countries we serve. When you sponsor a child, you provide regular health and malnutrition screenings and, if needed, access to rehabilitation programs where their progress is consistently monitored for improvement.

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6 million
children under the age of 5 die every year

Malnutrition and hunger is a global problem that can be treated. We are committed to ensuring immediate support to children who have been identified as undernourished, which involves medical check-ups, growth monitoring, nutritional supplements, and nutrition education.

of children in Zambia suffer from stunting

Since 2000, Africa is the only region where cases of stunting have actually increased. Malnutrition in Zambia causes stunting. Without early intervention, stunting has lifelong consequences that impact a child’s ability to learn and grow. 

a severely wasted child is 11 times more likely to die

Undernourishment affects a child's ability to fight off and heal from disease. Globally, more than 50% of child deaths due to pneumonia and malaria identify undernourishment as an underlying factor.

238 million 
children under 5 were affected by malnutrition in 2018.

Regional child malnutrition estimates, in combination with estimates from UNICEF, WHO, and World Bank global reveal we still have a long way to go to reach the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals set by the World Health Assembly.

What is child sponsorship?

Child sponsorship connects two people — a sponsor with a generous heart and a child living in poverty.

From toddlerhood to young adulthood, our child sponsorship program equips kids with crucial life and job skills to break the cycle of poverty. For good.

Your $39 monthly gift supports

1. A safe place, like 67 community centers around the world
2. A caring team of local staff and volunteers
3. A path out of poverty through life-changing programs and services.

More about child sponsorship:

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