Undernutrition represents a set of adverse health outcomes, such as underweight, childhood stunting and micronutrient deficiencies, that are caused by imbalances in diet and their interactions with infection. Overnutrition is another form of malnutrition in which the intake of high-caloric nutrients is oversupplied, leading to problems of overweight, obesity, micronutrient deficiencies and diet-related non-communicable chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.
After Europe and North America, Asia and Pacific countries started to face the problem of the double burden of malnutrition (e.g. Gillespie and Haddad 2001). The region is now home to nearly half of the world’s population simultaneously experiencing a double burden of childhood stunting, with rates above 30%; and overweight, with adult female overweight rates above 25% and the most rapid growth rate of overweight over the past 30 years.
The Global Nutrition Report finds that 88% of the 140 countries studied face a serious burden of either two or all of the three forms of malnutrition used as indicators for broader trends: childhood stunting, anaemia in women of reproductive age, and overweight adult women.
This burden is impacting broader global development efforts, and shows the importance of nutrition in the efforts made to end poverty, fight disease, raise educational standards and tackle climate change.
Given the increased complexity of the malnutrition problem, the speed of economic and demographic change in the region and its already large share of the double burden, a change is vital.
More nutrition-specific interventions, and investments will need to be done over the next 10 years to achieve global nutrition targets and tackle the causes of malnutrition that are mainly:
- The lack of affordable nutritious foods / nutrient-dense foods for consumers with low income and purchasing power; and
- The accessibility of these products for such consumers.
SEAChange aims to bring together cross sector partners to develop together more nutritious products adapted in terms of content, price and accessibility to these low- and middle-income consumers and, in this way, contribute to the fight against the burden of malnutrition in the region.