Malnutrition in the Americas: challenges and opportunities
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Recent decades have witnessed major changes in nutritional status and trends at the global level. As we embark on the United Nations’ Decade of Action on Nutrition, 50 million children under age 5 worldwide are suffering from wasting or acute malnutrition, 165 million children under 5 are stunted, and 273 million children ages 6 months to 5 years, along with 500 million women of childbearing age, are suffering from anemia. At the same time, some 41 million children under 5 are overweight (a nearly 60% increase since 1990), and 39% of adults over 18 are overweight or obese. Clearly, these numbers point to an urgent need to adapt policies and programs to more effectively address this double burden of disease. Alarmed by these recent trends and their present and future health consequences, the Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted global targets for maternal, infant, and young child nutrition in 2012. They call on countries, by 2025, to 1) reduce by 40% the number of children under age 5 who are stunted; 2) reduce anemia by 50% in women of reproductive age; 3) reduce low birth weight by 30%; 4) ensure that there is no increase in childhood overweight; 5) increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months of life to at least 50%; and 6) reduce childhood wasting to less than 5%. The Comprehensive Implementation Plan on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition, which establishes these targets, also sets out guidance for meeting them. It commits Member States to carrying out comprehensive, multisectoral policies and programs to improve nutrition in their populations and recommends specific actions in both the health sector and other sectors. It also calls for implementing or improving information systems to facilitate evaluation of progress and to promote accountability. Both the targets and the commitments contained in the 2012 WHO plan were subsequently reaffirmed in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, approved by UN Member States in September 2015, and in the Decade of Action on Nutrition, launched in July 2016...
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