Hidden Hunger is a global problem

Learn about Hidden Hunger and how you can help.

What is hidden hunger?

Millions of children who suffer from hidden hunger consume enough calories to survive, but lack the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) needed to reach their full physical and mental potential. The effects of hidden hunger are detrimental and can lead to immediate life-threateningconditions, poor performance in school and subsequently, impaired economic performance as adults. 3.1 million children die every year as a result of undernutrition (accounting for 45% of all child deaths).

Fortunately, Vitamin Angels has the solution: distributing vitamins and minerals to children and mothers in need.

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

LIVES IMPAIRED ANNUALLY

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.