Global Hunger Index 2014: The challenges of hidden hunger
This report (PDF) from IFPRI, World Hunger Hilfe, Concern Worldwide offers a multifaceted overview of global hunger that brings new insights to the global debate on where to focus efforts in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. The report highlights the challenges related to hidden hunger, which is often ignored or overshadowed by hunger related to energy deficits. Hidden hunger, or micronutrient deficiency, affects some 2 billion people around the world. This shortage in essential vitamins and minerals can have long-term, irreversible health effects as well as socioeconomic consequences that can erode a person’s well-being and development. By affecting people’s productivity, it can also take a toll on countries’ economies. Poor diet, disease, impaired absorption, and increased micronutrient needs during certain life stages, such as pregnancy, lactation, and infancy, are among the causes of hidden hunger, which may “invisibly” affect the health and development of a population. Possible solutions to hidden hunger include food-based approaches: dietary diversification, which might involve growing more diverse crops in a home garden; fortification of commercial foods; and biofortification, in which food crops are bred with increased micronutrient content. Food-based measures will require long-term, sustained, and coordinated efforts to make a lasting difference. In the short term, vitamin and mineral supplements can help vulnerable populations combat hidden hunger.