The Global Challenge of Hidden Hunger: Perspectives from the Field

Lowe, Nicola M orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6934-2768 (2021) The Global Challenge of Hidden Hunger: Perspectives from the Field. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society . ISSN 0029-6651

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The aim of this review paper is to explore the strategies employed to tackle micronutrient deficiencies with illustrations from field-based experience. Hidden hunger is the presence of multiple micronutrient deficiencies (particularly iron, zinc, iodine and vitamin A), which can occur without a deficit in energy intake as a result of consuming an energy dense, but nutrient poor diet. It is estimated that affects more than two billion people worldwide, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where there is a reliance on low cost food staples and where the diversity of the diet is limited. Finding a way to improve the nutritional quality of diets for the poorest people is central to meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly SDG2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. As we pass the midpoint of the United Nations’ Decade for Action on Nutrition, it is timely to reflect on progress towards achieving SDG2 and the strategies to reduce hidden hunger. Many low- and middle-income countries are falling behind national nutrition targets, and this been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other recent shocks to the global food system which have disproportionately impacted the world’s most vulnerable communities. Addressing inequalities within the food system must be central to developing a sustainable, cost effective strategy for improving food quality that delivers benefit to the seldom heard and marginalised communities.

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