Child Malnutrition Hits Central Asia

In its recently published report “Child Food Poverty 2024,” UNICEF has identified 63 countries, including four Central Asian countries, where child malnutrition has reached a  crisis point.

Severe child food poverty threatens the survival, growth, and development of an estimated 181 million children under five globally, denying them the opportunity to escape social and economic deprivation. As stated in the report, “Child food poverty harms all children, but it is particularly damaging in early childhood when insufficient dietary intake of essential nutrients can cause the greatest harm to child survival, physical growth, and cognitive development. The consequences can last a lifetime: children deprived of good nutrition in early childhood perform worse in school and have lower learning capacity in adulthood, trapping them and their families in a cycle of poverty and deprivation.”

The indicator of food ration determines children’s food security. It was developed by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO). For healthy growth and development, children should consume at least five products from the following eight groups:

  1. Breast milk
  2. Grains, roots, tubers, and plantains
  3. Pulses, nuts, and seeds
  4. Dairy products
  5. Fresh foods
  6. Egg
  7. Vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables
  8. Other fruits and vegetables.

If children consume products that belong to just two groups, they live in extreme nutritional poverty; if they consume products belonging to three-four groups, they live in a moderate state related to nutrition. If they consume products belonging to five or more groups, they are considered not to be in a poor situation related to nutrition.

Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have average levels of child malnutrition, Turkmenistan has a low level, and Tajikistan has a high level.


Times of Central Asia