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Food & Hunger

8 reasons why nutritious food helps break the cycle of extreme poverty

USAID / Flickr: CIAT/ Neil Palmer
Flickr: CIAT/ Neil Palmer

HANGRY. That uncomfortable feeling when you’re so hungry you lose all control of your emotions. So convinced the world is conspiring against you, you lash out at whoever dares to cross your path. And so depleted of energy, you can no longer perform basic functions like rational decision making. Yeah, we’ve all been there.

I’ll be the first to say that the hangries are a real thing. On the same note, I recognize that this brief feeling of discomfort is nothing compared to what people who continually lack access to nutritious foods experience. Still, it’s not a bad jumping off point to try and understand what life is like for people living in extreme poverty. Just think, how much less would you be able to accomplish if you were in a perpetual state of hunger?

For this reason, Global Citizen has a history of campaigning to ensure food security for the world’s poor. That is to say, we’ve been working to increase access to food, and decrease undernourishment. But now, we’re shifting our focus slightly towards malnourishment. In addition to increasing food security, we want to make sure that the food people eat is nutritious. Having access to nutritious food is vital to ending the self sustaining cycles of extreme poverty. Here, I explain 8 reasons why both, food security, and good nutrition, are so important:

1. When mothers have access to nutritious food, they are more likely to have healthy, well-nourished newborn babies. And that’s big, because...

Flickr: Nevil Zaveri

2. Nearly half (45%) of all deaths of young children can be avoided when they are well-nourished.

Flickr: Michael Pollack

3. Good nutrition can prevent stunting which occurs when children are unable to reach their optimal linear grown as a result of under and malnutrition. Sadly, stunting is a reality for approximately 165 million children under the age of 5, or 1 in 4, so addressing this issue is huge.

Flickr: Arsenie Coseac

4. Well-nourished kids will enjoy more physical activity, be more resistant to infection, and will see a decrease in morbidity and mortality.

Flickr: Alex

5. But the benefits of nutrition extend well beyond health. Children with access to nutritious food will reach their mental development potential and educational capacity. Simply put, they will attend school earlier, learn more, and postpone dropping out.

Flickr: Canada in Afghanistan/ Amina Moravej

6. Consequently, they will marry and have children later, and give birth to healthier babies.

Flickr: World Bank/ Bart Verweij

7. And as adults, they will see an increase in productivity, earn more in their jobs, and manage risk better.

Flickr: International Institute for Environment and Development

8. Now here’s the icing on the cake: with access to solid nutrition, low and middle-income countries stand to add up to 8% of potential economic growth.

Flickr: jbdodane

So there you have it. Access to nutritious food is a recipe for growth in every way possible. In the coming months, stay tuned for ways you can help ensure everyone in the world has access to nutritious food. That’s healthy for all of us.

Until then, click here to tweet at US Senator Bob Corker and tell him to help feed the world in 2015!