Nutrition and Obesity Week in Review

This Week in Review blog is part of the Wikiprogress Health focus. See the full range of health articles on Wikiprogress

The theme of this Week in Review is nutrition and obesity as part of wider focus on health during April. Highlights from this review include: IDS UK’s new Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index, a collaborative report from PBS News Hour and the OECD on obesity in America, a joint paper on global malnutrition from UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank and more.
*The Institute of Development Studies’ new Hunger and nutrition commitment index is a measurement of political commitment to tackling hunger and malnutrition in 45 developing countries. The index was created to provide greater transparency and public accountability by measuring what governments achieve, and where they fail, in addressing hunger and undernutrition.
*PBS News Hour has released its first commentary in a collaborative series with the OECD, which explores how health care and health policy in the latter’s member countries compare with the US. New data reveals relatively promising figures with obesity rates slowing in the America, England, France and Korea. However, these encouraging trends show that obesity has become one of the biggest threats in developed countries and increasingly so in emerging economies, as today’s article from the Guardianrelating to the growing problem of obesity, diabetes and heart disease in Africa shows.  The article references the OECD’s “Better Life Index” tool, which allows members of the public to firstly rank what they value in life and then see how their own country measures up on the topics they value most.
*For the first time UNICEF, WHOand the World Bankreport joint estimates of child malnutrition for 2011 and trends since 1990. The aim of the initiative is to alleviate the double burden of malnutrition in children, starting from the earliest ages of development. To find out more, visit our Wikichild page.
*While it was released last year, the EFA Global Monitoring Report has been an important touch point for preceding publications related to malnutrition, particularly in relation to its effects on children. Despite a decline in the global number of deaths of children under five from 12 million in 1990 to 9.6 million in 2000 and 7.6 million in 2010 (EFA 2012), this drop is not sufficient if the fourth Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015 is to be met. 

In 2005the WHO reported that more than half of all deaths among children are caused by malnutrition. It is therefore arguable that if governments seek to provide adequate quantities of higher quality food with more micronutrients, child mortality levels may drop to the targeted percentage. Malnutrition, through lack of both macronutrients and certain micronutrients has long-term negative impacts on brain and nerve development and function, including on mental skills and activity, and the acquisition of skills needed to interact well socially.
*A new report by UNICEF to be published next week reveals the high prevalence of stunting in children under five years old, but also outlines the tremendous opportunities that exist to make it a problem of the past. In response to nutrition crisis in Chad and the Sahel Belt region, UNICEF, the Government of Chad and partners such as ECHO have scaled up services and facilities to treat the growing number of children affected by malnutrition. Check out the video below to find out more about the initiative. 

Look forward to more health related articles, blogs, tweets, spotlights and videos over the next few weeks. 

Robbie Lawrence
Wikichild Coordinator  
The Wikiprogress Team