Beating back malnutrition


In the communities we serve, our robust Nutrition Rehabilitation Program identifies and supports moderately to severely undernourished children. Over the past few years, the program has evolved from a group approach to a more individualized, in-home methodology, empowering children and caregivers with the means and knowledge to affordably improve their dietary habits.

The World Food Program estimates that 345 million people will be food insecure in 2023 — more than twice as many as in 2020.

Malnutrition is responsible for nearly half of all under-5 child deaths worldwide, and obesity and chronic diseases from unhealthy eating habits also threaten children’s long-term health. That’s why educating children and their families — along with providing supplemental assistance — is a critical programmatic component.

Developing a lifetime of healthier eating practicies isn’t easy for anyone, but it is particularly difficult in the disadvantaged neighborhoods where our families live. Often lacking places to buy healthy, affordable foods, parents must often prioritize filling empty stomachs without the resources or knowledge to provide healthier alternatives.

In addition to food and nutrition education, we also provide those enrolled in Nutrition Rehabilitation with protein, vitamin & mineral supplements, and supermarket food vouchers.”

— Gabriela Naranjo, Medical Nutririonist, Ecuador

Marjorie (above center), with her sponsored sons, Mateo (left) and Esnaider. After a regular medical checkup revealed Mateo was severely undernourished and that Esnaider was underweight, both were enrolled in our Nutrition Rehabilitation Program. All our children are screened for signs of malnourishment during their annual exams.

“My children have progressed,” says Marjorie. “Their diet has improved a lot … now that I know that food should have colors and be attractive to the eye. And our food should be varied: salad, meat, rice.”

Esnaider tells us, “I like the nutrition workshops and learning the importance of eating healthy. Well,” he admits, “I don’t like vegetables very much, but I still eat them because they are important for me to grow.”


The U.S. Food Pyramid for nutrition was replaced by the MyPlate concept in 2011. The plate icon is a simplified tool, demonstrating how people can portion a plate for healthier eating habits.

Vanessa (above), is all smiles now that her daughter, Abigail, has greatly improved her nutrition.

We have learned a great deal about food, how to eat healthy and make delicious, nutritious drinks. My daughter has grown and has also gained weight.”

— Vanessa, mother of Abigail

Since being enrolled in Children International’s Nutrition Rehabilitation Program, Ismael (14, above left, with his mother, María) has continually progressed.

Ismael had problems of malnutrition and was short for his age. Since the moment he began participating, we have seen how he has improved with his weight and growth. We are very grateful, with all our hearts.”

— María, mother of Ismael

Nutritional interventions are just one of many tools our health programs provide. For disadvantaged families in neglected communities, health education and access to adequate health care – including dental health – is foundational to ending generational poverty.

Learn more about how Children International helps young people get and stay healthy.


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