What does malnutrition look like? Most of us think of bloated bellies or skin and bones, but the appearance of a hungry child might surprise you.
Internationally, hunger often stunts growth. Imagine a 9-year-old who appears to be only 5. It often takes a different form in the United States. A 7-year-old boy who eats a lot of empty calories will be overweight, but he’s still starving for healthy food.
Dirty water and waste left out in the open expose kids (and adults) to all sorts of infections and parasites. These steal what little nutrients their food offers. And children who already don’t get enough to eat aren’t strong enough to fight these diseases.
In the United States, kids have to go to school, and most parents know it’s worth the time. They just need help getting their kids ready for school and helping them finish their homework.
In other countries where we work, hundreds of millions of children don’t attend school for a number of reasons that can include inadequate schools and teachers, unaffordable school fees, and cultural norms that place a higher value on educating boys than girls. Also, the lower a family’s income, the more they need the kids to work for food instead of going to school (World Bank). It creates a vicious cycle they can’t break on their own.
All kids get sick. But in 2012, 6.6 million children under the age of 5 died (WHO).. More than half of these died from a preventable or treatable sickness.
A child who doesn’t eat properly is too weak to fight off infection or bounce back from diarrhea. (Malnutrition contributes to 45% of all child deaths.) Others live too far from a health worker to get medicine when they need it. And kids running around in bare feet pick up parasites that can make them weak.
One billion children around the world live in poverty (Global Issues). So many of their families are caught in a cycle: living in poverty brings hunger, and living with hunger prolongs poverty.
Most people don't live in poverty because they want to. They just have no way to get out. A lot of them never finished school, so they can’t read well or earn a living wage. And while most people work very hard, the jobs available to them often don't pay enough to make a living.