Was there a subject you struggled with in school? And I mean struggled. A subject that made you think twice before entering the classroom? A subject that made you physically linger in the hallway before walking through the door? Well, for me that class was Pre-Calculus.. The “solving for y” business is not how my brain approaches problems. 

Algebraic formulas made me thankful for my English, journalism, and art classes. I can’t imagine what it would feel like if every class was like sitting through Pre-Calculus! But this is what learning feels like on a daily basis for children who are malnourished.

For examples, in South Sudan more than half the population lives in extreme poverty.  According to the Global Hunger Index, one in three children under age five is stunted. This means they haven’t received the right food for a long time and are too short for their age. Almost one in four children under age five is wasted, meaning they don’t weigh enough for their height. 

Children who are poorly nourished in their first two years won’t reach their full potential, jeopardizing their education and future income for the rest of their lives. For these children, every class is a version of “Pre-Calculus.” If children do happen to focus on something, it’s often on how hungry they are, and not the lesson at hand. Nutrition is important because it fuels minds, unlocking full potential in the classroom that directly correlates to the rest of people’s lives. 

On August 4, before the world’s top athletes compete at the Olympics, world leaders are will gather at the Nutrition for Growth event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This is a golden opportunity for world leaders to scale up their commitment to creating a hunger-free world. 

We’ve started a movement called #Nutrition4Gold. A movement that will call world leaders to act on nutrition and make it a priority for each of their countries. A simple TWEET can help end all forms of malnutrition!  

Here are 10 reasons why we need you to join the #Nutrition4Gold movement and act on nutrition: 

1. A child with severe acute malnutrition is nine times more likely to die from common infections than a child who is properly nourished.

2. Catch-up growth later in childhood is minimal – the damage caused is largely irreversible.

3. Nearly half of all deaths in children under age five are attributable to undernutrition.

4. A severely stunted child faces four times higher risk of dying than children who are not severely stunted. A child is has stunted growth when they haven’t received enough nutrients for the body to properly grow.

5. Nourished children have brighter futures than their malnourished peers.

6. If a child doesn’t receive enough nutrition in the first 1,000 days of their lives their full potential will never be realized.

7. Poor nutrition leads to poor educational performance and diminished educational outcomes mean these children will earn less once they become adults.

8. Nutrition begins with a child’s mother. If the mother is undernourished, they have a greater chance of giving birth to a low-weight baby than a mom who has been properly nourished. And so the cycle continues.

9. Undernutrition is estimated to account for a loss of  ten per cent reduction of lifetime earnings, placing a huge burden on household and national economies.

10. The costs of undernutrition and nutrient deficiencies are estimated at 2–3 per cent of the global GDP.  This is equal to about $1.4–2.1 trillion US dollars per year.

We can end the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition and begin building one of health and nutrition. Malnutrition is largely preventable and we are the ones with the ability to take steps towards ending malnutrition and and building a hunger-free future. 


Defeat Poverty

10 Facts About Proper Nutrition You Didn't Know

By Alissa Sandoval