We have made progress in lowering the global undernourishment rate: the proportion of undernourished people worldwide declined from 15 per cent in 2000-2002 to 11 per cent in 2014-2016. About 793 million people are undernourished globally, down from 930 million people during the same period.
Undernourishment affects an alarmingly high number of children under the age of 5 – in 2016, approximately 155 million children were stunted. As a result, far too many young children are stunted, wasted, or overweight. Children who are stunted are at a greater risk of catching infection, are vulnerable to non-communicable diseases later in life and are impacted by atypical cognitive development. While the global stunting rate fell from 33 per cent in 2000 to 23 per cent in 2016, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounted for three quarters of all stunted children that year.
In 2016, an estimated 52 million children under the age of 5 suffered from wasting (with a low weight for their height, usually the result of an acute and significant food shortage and/or disease). The global wasting rate in 2016 was 7.7 per cent, with the highest rate (15.4 per cent) in South Asia. At the other end of the spectrum, overweight and obesity affected 41 million children under 5 years of age worldwide (6 per cent).