Nutrition factsheet


Poor nutrition is the underlying cause of a third of child deaths.

Undernutrition is a major challenge for both low- and middle-income countries and significantly affects the lives of individuals and communities. It is the underlying cause of 35% of all deaths among children under five. Under-nourished children are also more vulnerable to illness. 

Under-nutrition can result in a loss of 2–3% of a country’s GDP.

If they survive to adulthood, children who were under nourished tend to earn about 10% less than those who had a healthy diet. In 2006, a World Bank study found that under-nutrition could result in a loss of about 2–3% of national gross domestic product (GDP), thus reducing the revenue available for investing in infrastructure and public services. Investments in nutrition are therefore essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and ultimately to eradicating poverty.

In 2011, funding for basic nutrition was less than 1% of total aid.

In 2011 total official development assistance (ODA) from OECD DAC donors was $133.5 billion. Aid to basic nutrition accounted for only 0.4% of the total. The graph below shows how much ODA went to basic nutrition between 2000 and 2011. It is consistently low over time, however the good news is that it more than doubled between 2004 and 2011.

Nutrition