The Global Nutrition Report 2018 was recently released. This report was produced by the Independent Expert Group, of which African Centre for Cities senior researcher Dr Jane Battersby is a member, supported by the Global Nutrition Report Stakeholder Group and the Secretariat at Development Initiatives.

Malnutrition is a universal issue holding back development with unacceptable human consequences. Yet the opportunity to end malnutrition has never been greater. The UN Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016–2025 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide global and national impetus to address malnutrition and expedite progress.

The burden of malnutrition across the world remains unacceptably high, and progress unacceptably slow. Malnutrition is responsible for more ill health than any other cause. Children under five years of age face multiple burdens: 150.8 million are stunted, 50.5 million are wasted and 38.3 million are overweight. Meanwhile 20 million babies are born of low birth weight each year. Overweight and obesity among adults are at record levels with 38.9% of adults overweight or obese, stretching from Africa to North America, and increasing among adolescents. Women have a higher burden than men when it comes to certain forms of malnutrition: one third of all women of reproductive age have anaemia and women have a higher prevalence of obesity than men. Millions of women are still underweight.

Yet significant steps are being made to address malnutrition. Globally, stunting among children has declined and there has been a slight decrease in underweight women. Many countries are set to achieve at least one of the targets set by the global community to track progress on nutritional status to 2025. The level of knowledge on what it takes to deliver results has never been greater. The global community and national stakeholders have never been better placed to deliver results, with more governance, policies, actions, plans and targets. Advances in data are enabling us to progress our understanding of the nature of the burden of malnutrition in all its forms and its causes – and therefore guide and inspire action and improve our ability to track progress.

It is vital we urgently seize this window of opportunity to get on track towards the SDG target of ending malnutrition in all its forms by 2030. The 2018 Global Nutrition Report provides a data update to shine a light on steps needed to do so. For if we are to end malnutrition in all its forms, we must understand the nature of the problem we are dealing with. The report collates existing data, presents new innovations in data and conducts novel data analysis, focusing on five areas: the burden of malnutrition, emerging areas in need of focus, diets as a common cause of malnutrition in all its forms, financing of nutrition action, and global commitments. Throughout the report, examples of actions being taken to address malnutrition are highlighted and explored.

Through this analysis, the 2018 Global Nutrition Report casts a light on where there has been progress and identifies where major problems still lie – and thus where actions are needed to consolidate progress and fill major gaps.

Download the full report here. 

View report sections and country profiles online.