Global Nutrition Report provides first-ever comprehensive narrative on global and country-level progress on nutrition

Report finds economic growth is not enough to combat malnutrition

November 13, 2014, London—A multi-stakeholder partnership has released the first-ever comprehensive narrative on global health and country-level progress toward reducing malnutrition everywhere.

The Global Nutrition Report (GNR) was produced by an independent expert group, which includes Judith Randel, Executive Director of Development Initiatives. It provides a comprehensive global profile and country profiles on nutrition for each of the United Nations’ 193 member states, and includes specific progress for each country.

A centrepiece of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) in Rome, the GNR is an outcome of the Nutrition for Growth Summit in London in 2013. It was compiled to create a one-stop composite of the often fragmented and disparate information available on global nutrition and to fill in some critical gaps in knowledge and data collection.

The report is ambitious in its breadth, covering nutrition status outcomes, program coverage, and underlying determinants, such as food security and water, sanitation and hygiene, resource allocations, and institutional and policy transformations. It discusses the pressing need for strong leadership across society – in government, science, civil society, private foundations and business – to accelerate the reduction of malnutrition.

The data are derived from an array of malnutrition indicators – from undernutrition in young children to nutrition-related non-communicable diseases in adults, and from stunting to obesity – and include the drivers that often lead to malnutrition. Country profiles provide dashboards of more than 80 indicators on nutrition outcomes, determinants, program coverage, resources and political commitment.

Almost every country in the world, rich or poor, faces a serious public health risk due to malnutrition, either from undernutrition, obesity, or micronutrient deficiencies. The cost of poor nutrition is high: premature death, stressed health systems, and a severe drag on economic progress. While economic growth can help reduce malnutrition, boosting an economy is not enough to rid a country of malnutrition, and often makes overweight and obesity more likely.

The benefits of improved nutrition cascade through the lifecycle and across generations, which is why the costs of failing to act are tragically high for all countries and why nutrition goals must be strongly embedded in the Sustainable Development Goal framework, post-2015. This requires developing stronger accountability mechanisms with better data, more transparency, and stronger feedback systems as a vital step toward intensifying commitment and making sure these mechanisms improve nutrition status.

The GNR hopes to contribute to country-led efforts to strengthen accountability, share learning about what is working, and highlight bottlenecks to progress and how they may be overcome. The 2025 World Health Assembly targets for nutrition should be regarded as a floor, not a ceiling, which can be exceeded with a realistic intensification of commitment and effort. This report is a critical first step in that direction.

Development Initiatives works to end extreme poverty by 2030 by making data and information on poverty and resource flows transparent, accessible and useable. We help decision-makers use information to increase their impact for the poorest people in the most sustainable way.