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World Hunger


Have you ever felt the urgent need for food; or maybe an uneasy sensation occasioned by the lack of food while growing up? Have you ever felt so weak due to a prolonged lack of food during your childhood? If not then maybe your house is filled with unlimited snacks or food that you will never feel the described feeling above. Others in the world are not so lucky. 


Source: Hunger Map 2019


In 2018, 49 million children are reported to be wasted while 17 million were severely wasted. More than half of all wasted children lived in South Asia and about one-quarter in sub-Saharan Africa, with similar proportions for severely wasted children. If the current trends continue, the number of hungry people will reach 840 million by 2030. 

According to the Hunger Map 2020, Malaysia falls under 5% of the prevalence of undernourishment in the total population in 2017. The neighbouring country such as Indonesia, the prevalence is a bit higher than in Malaysia. 

Several related terms are close to hunger such as wasting and stunting. This will be further explained under the two basic types of malnutrition.


Hunger-health Issue

  1. Protein-energy Malnutrition (PEM)

Source: Kwashiorkor vs Marasmus


The first type of malnutrition is protein-energy malnutrition (PEM). PEM occurs when there is a lack of calories and protein and it is known as a lethal form of malnutrition. It is also the term that is commonly used when discussing world hunger. Lacking protein will further lead to several growth failures such as Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). 


Other than that, wasting which is also known as Marasmus is described as having a very low weight for a person’s height. Physical characteristics that could be observed are severe deficiency of all nutrients, skin is dry and wrinkled but no dermatosis, voracious appetite, however no hair changes, and absence of subcutaneous fat while the fatty liver is uncommon. 


Kwashiorkor is also included under wasting. Physical characteristics related to kwashiorkor are severe protein deficiency, and peripheral oedema is present, while hair changes and fatty liver is common too. 


  1. Micronutrient Deficiency


The second type of malnutrition is micronutrient deficiency. The most common micronutrient deficiency in lower-middle-income countries is Iron, Vitamin A and Iodine. 


When somebody is lacking in Iron, major health consequences that will follow include poor pregnancy outcome, impaired physical and cognitive development, increased risk of morbidity (illness) in children and reduced work productivity in adults. However, when someone is lacking in Vitamin A, it will cause night blindness and reduce the body’s resistance to disease. Lacking it will also cause impaired growth. Lastly, iodine deficiency will cause impaired cognitive development among children, especially in Africa and Asia. This is why most of the current salt is now fortified with iodine causing the creation of iodized salt.


Causes of Hunger

To simplify, the causes of hunger started with political instability. This problem will result in declining in the economy, reducing the value of the country’s currency thus later leading to higher food prices and less nutritious food available for purchase. 


Next cause such as food and agricultural policy which lack of adoption of productive technologies which later will affect food crop production.


Climate change such as drought will also cause hunger. People which are affected will climate change will lose a lot of suitable nutritious soil to produce food due to a lack of good nutrients in the soil thanks to the blasting suns. In tropical countries that have heavy rain counts, floods usually cause people to become in hunger due to the total loss of crop production due to overflowing water.


Our effort matters in curbing this problem. One can donate a day’s pay towards the alleviation of poverty and eradication of world hunger. One can also distribute and donate to curb the wastage that is common during a party. We can also celebrate the brotherhood by celebrating joyous occasions by donating the amount you spend on special occasions such as birthdays. Games can also contribute by playing, clicking and buy by playing games on sites that help to earn rice in the World Food Program. Don’t underestimate the power of your word and do spread your word on social media platforms to raise awareness among other people regarding world hunger. Together we will solve the problem and make the world a better place for children to live in.


Written by: Alia Adrina Asri

BSc (Hons) Nutrition

Love Earth Nutritionist