Poor nutrition affects the most vulnerable, particularly children and women, the poorest and the least educated – those who stand to gain the most from improved nutrition.
Most recent trends in hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition show that up to 811 million people in the world are still hungry. Nearly 3 billion people are unable to afford a healthy diet.
An estimated 149 million children are stunted – too short for their age. Stunting holds children back from reaching their promise and is usually associated with poor socio-economic conditions.
Moreover, an estimated 45 million children are wasted, meaning their weight is low for their height, which for young children significantly increases the risk of death.
The COVID-19 crisis could potentially lead to an additional 13.6 million wasted children and 3.6 million stunted children.
Simultaneously, some 2.2 billion adults are overweight or obese, and most (70%) live in low and middle-income countries, while more than 2 billion people are affected by a lack of vitamins and minerals.
The EU is taking a sustained, country-driven, locally adapted and rights-based approach, with a strong focus on tackling entrenched inequalities, such as those relating to wealth and gender. In doing so, the EU is supporting both inclusive and sustainable food systems with economic, social and environmental dimensions; and universal health, education and social protection services.
Between 2014 and 2020 we have been working with 42 partner countries to improve nutrition and related health conditions with a particular focus on child nutrition.
EU Action Plan on Nutrition
The EU's Action Plan on Nutrition outlines how we plan to reach our commitment of reducing stunting in children under five by at least 10% (7 million children) of the World Health Assembly goal by 2025.
The action plan addresses strategic objectives in the areas of governance, scaled up interventions and research and how these objectives will be reached. It underlines the need to work closely with development players and partner countries.
Since the first progress report, analysis of stunting progress has focused on the original group of 40 countries that prioritised nutrition in their cooperation with the EU.
The latest estimates indicate that in 38 of these countries, the proportion of stunted children has fallen by 6.2 percentage points, while the anticipated number of children averted from stunting from 2012 to 2025 is 4.2 million across the 40 countries.