Written by Angelina Lee
When a baby is born, that child can grow up to accomplish anything and everything. There are infinite possibilities in the world that they can reach for and fulfill to their heart’s desire. However, some of these lives can be crushed before they even turn five years old due to malnutrition. It’s the leading cause of death for children under five; responsible for nearly fifty percent of early deaths.
There are many different ways malnutrition can affect a child. Perhaps they were fed the wrong food, fed inadequately, or simply not fed at all. Many times, the families of these children simply do not have to agency to raise these children well. For example, they can lack access to nutritious foods or the food is too expensive. This is particularly true in third world countries where the percentage of children dying of malnutrition before five approaches thirty percent. Due to the difficulty in obtaining nutritious food, many children in these third world countries will die before even experiencing life.
While children may die from malnutrition, that is not always the case. Some children are malnutrition, yet they survive and continue to age past five. Well, what of these children? As these children grow up without the nutrients to thrive, their growth can be stunted. Stunting is when the growth rate of a human is reduced. These children, all of whom are going through the time when eating and growing is the most crucial, are unable to grow due to lack of nutrients. These children may appear younger than others their age due to lack of growth, both body and mind-wise. Without sufficient nutrients, it is also difficult for children’s brains to develop as they should.
As recent as 2018, stunting has been a major problem for malnutrition children. Three entire regions of the world—over twenty countries—had over thirty percent of stunted children. When looking at a graphic, it is easy to tell that the children of many African countries are affected by this. This is likely due to the lack of resources of these poorer countries to feed and give comfortable lives to their citizens. This is a big dilemma because stunted children suffer permanent and irreversible mental and physical damage from stunting. While they are young children, their brains and bones are still developing, and as they lack the proper nutrients at this crucial time period, they will never be able to catch up to their peers.
This problem affects less than ten percent of American children, but it is clear to see which group of people are affected. It will be the homeless and struggling families that cannot afford to feed their children, and in the process, they will inflict permanent damage onto said children. A possible solution for this is for government-funded services such as schools to feed said children. Since Pre-K is for children starting from the age of four, it will not be too late to give these children proper nutrition and for them to grow and develop at the same rate as their wealthier peers. Both parties are receiving the same education, and as they are properly fed, their mental capacity can be on par—and maybe the poorer party may even surpass their wealthier counterpart.
“Malnutrition.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 14 Dec. 2011, www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/topics/child/malnutrition/en/.
“Malnutrition in Children.” UNICEF DATA, data.unicef.org/topic/nutrition/malnutrition/.