The Hidden Hunger Monster

A global monstrosity is hiding in plain sight

 

Look in your pantry. Check your grocery store. The Hidden Hunger Monster is on the loose. He's been spotted in homes and schools around the globe, from rural Africa to mountainous regions of Peru to your local playground in Los Angeles. For years he has been menacing children and mothers, leaving them tired, sick and disoriented. He has remained elusive - out of sight to those who don't know what he looks like.

Vitamin Angels is fighting the Hidden Hunger Monster with vitamins and minerals, but we need your help.

 

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What is hidden hunger?
Who is at risk?

Children under five and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, especially those living in developing countries or with low incomes, are the most vulnerable to hidden hunger and are often unaware of the cause of undernutrition’sconsequences.

More than 2 billion of the approximately 7 billion people in the world suffer from a chronic deficiency of essential vitamins and minerals, a condition known as hidden hunger. According to WHO/UNICEF, at least 535 million infants and young children ages 6 – 59 months reside in countries classified as experiencing moderate to severe vitamin A deficiency, suggesting that hidden hunger is a significant and widespread problem. Hidden hunger among pregnant and lactating mothers only exacerbates the same problem among young children.

What happens to children who suffer from hidden hunger?

The effects of hidden hunger are devastating and cause:

LIVES LOST ANNUALLY

157,000 children under five due to vitamin A deficiency

116,000 children under five due to zinc deficiency

136,000 women and children die because of iron-deficiency anemia

LIVES IMPAIRED ANNUALLY 18 million babies are born mentally impaired because of maternal iodine deficiency
How can we combat hidden hunger?

There are at least three ways to help those suffering:

 

1. Eating more of better food

Increasing intake of nutritious foods among those suffering from undernutritionis both costly and difficult, and is generally reserved for the most dire of circumstances in which populations are experiencing famine or some other natural or man-made disaster.

 

2. Fortifying food staples

Fortification of basic foodstuffs is a very effective intervention for overcoming hidden hunger; and indeed progress is being made to introduce fortification globally. However, fortification requires significant partnership and cooperation between governments and industry to be successful. Even with effective partnerships, fortification requires that members of society are also part of the cash economy – which often is not the case. Moreover, fortification of basic foodstuffs can be very difficult to achieve where they are produced by large numbers of processors as compared to circumstances where there are just a handful of large-scale manufacturers who can be more easily persuaded to take on fortification. Consequently, fortification alone is not always a complete or even viable solution to hidden hunger.

 

3. Vitamin supplementation for those who need it most 

Providing a supplement of vitamin A (twice a year) to selected population groups; or a daily multiple micronutrientsupplement to infants, young children and pregnant or lactating mothers is a simple and cost efficient way to alleviate hidden hunger, and can be a robust solution both in its own right and an intermediate solution until fortification of foodstuffs is achieved and accessible by all members of society; or until families have access to more food of better quality.

 

How is Vitamin Angels fighting hidden hunger?

Vitamin Angels focuses on achieving universal supplementation as the most immediate and effective way to reach all vulnerable individuals.