Global Nutrition

Ending hunger around the world is not just about providing people with enough food—it’s also about providing the right nutrients. Globally, 149 million children are stunted and will not have the chance to achieve their full potential because of poor nutrition early in life. Roughly, 49 million children at any given time experience acute malnutrition, an often life-threatening condition.

In order to prevent the 2.6 million childhood deaths each year that result from malnutrition, addressing the 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday is crucial. With the right nutrition during this period, we can ensure healthy body and brain development, stronger immune systems, more years of education, and a higher lifetime earning potential for millions of children.

In fact, studies show that children who get proper nutrition before their second birthday:

  • Are 10 times more likely to survive life-threatening childhood diseases.
  • Complete upwards of 4 to 5 more grade levels of school.
  • Earn 46 percent more income over their lifetimes.

They are also more likely to have healthier families, breaking the generational cycle of malnutrition. Recent analysis has also shown that for every $1 invested in improving nutrition in a country, $16 is returned to the economy there through decreased health care costs and increased economic productivity.

Evidence shows the importance of improving nutrition in women and children. However, the world is not on track to meet global nutrition targets set for 2025 and 2030. To help countries achieve their own development and economic goals, we must accelerate global progress on malnutrition.

The U.S. government plays a crucial role in the global fight to end maternal and child malnutrition. Efforts to end malnutrition include improving access to and availability of nutritious foods. It also involves humanitarian assistance and improvements in development areas such as agriculture, education, health, social protection, water, sanitation, hygiene, and women’s empowerment.

Recognizing the importance of integrating of all these sectors, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) released a Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy in 2014 as a roadmap toward reducing child stunting and ending preventable maternal and child deaths. The U.S. government in 2016 launched its Global Nutrition Coordination Plan to better enable collaboration across the federal government on global nutrition research and programs.

Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global food security initiative, serves as an important vehicle for implementing these strategies and plans. Through Feed the Future and other initiatives, the U.S. government has helped 3.4 million more children live free from the devastating consequences of stunting.

To maximize the full potential of USAID programs across sectors, a transformative change is needed that puts mother and child at the center. All U.S. development and humanitarian investments that support mothers and children can and should work more effectively together to maximize impact and progress.

Further strengthening U.S. government commitment on global maternal and child nutrition is urgently needed through both increased funding and by exploring new, innovative approaches to accelerate progress to end maternal and child malnutrition. We must do our part to help meet global targets on stunting, breastfeeding, anemia, and wasting by 2025, and to end malnutrition by 2030.

"Globally, 151 million children are stunted and will not have the chance to achieve their full potential."
The Importance of Getting the Right Nutrition at the Right Time. Infographic by Doug Puller / Bread for the World

from our Resource Library

For Education

  • Election Resources

    One of the best times to raise the issues of hunger and poverty is during election campaigns. Engage candidates in your state/district on hunger and poverty using our elections resources.
  • Racially Equitable Responses to Hunger During COVID-19 and Beyond

    By Marlysa D. Gamblin and Kathleen King

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as when a person or household does not have regular, reliable access to the foods needed for good health. Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color (BIPOC) have historically had higher...

  • Fact Sheet: COVID-19 Global Pandemic, Better Nutrition Protects Lives

    With the coronavirus now spreading in low-resource contexts and new waves of infection expected in the coming year, better nutrition for vulnerable people is more important than ever.

For Faith

  • Finding Hope, Ending Hunger on Both Sides of the Border: A Bilingual Latino Devotional

    Devotional writers challenge us to feel the Spirit of God within us and to hear God’s urgent call to demand justice so all can put food on the table.
  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in faith.” These words from Colossians 2:6 remind us of the faith that is active in love for our neighbors.

    The Bible on...

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

For Advocacy


African at Heart

November 22, 2019


From the Blog