Hunger and inadequate food supply are still affecting large
parts of the world's population with serious consequences
for health and well-being, especially in children. Undernutrition
and malnutrition in childhood interfere with
physical and mental development, thus compromising
whole lives. Assuring adequate nutrition from an early age
on is therefore a prerequisite for a society's prosperity. Diet
plays a special role because of the importance of specific
micronutrients for growth and development.
So far, efforts to combat undernutrition and malnutrition,
and make progress towards the first Millennium Development
Goal (MDG), which aims to "eradicate extreme
poverty and hunger", by reaching the target of halving
(by 2015, as compared with 1990) the proportion of people
who suffer from hunger, have achieved some success.
Thus, the proportion of undernourished children less than
5 years of age has been lowered from 33% in 1990 to 26%
in 2006. Worldwide, however, the number of undernourished
people is continuing to rise, and recent economic
hardship threatens to postpone further achievements.
The aim of the UNSCN's periodically published reports
on the world nutrition situation is to highlight the impact
nutrition problems have, particularly on developing nations,
by describing and analyzing the global food and
nutrition situation. After its predecessor's excursion into
the role of nutrition in strategies for health improvement,
this sixth report on the world nutrition situation brings
regional trend analyses to the fore, while at the same time
pursuing the subject of nutrition throughout the life-cycle
(discussed in the 2nd and 4th reports) with a chapter dedicated
to maternal nutrition and its effects on child health.