When there is a lack of vitamins and minerals, health and development suffer.
The sight of this treasure impresses even the village residents: in front of them they have spread out 260 different foods, all grown wild in their locality, the woods of the west Indian state of Odisha. Tubers and roots, mushrooms, fruits, green leafy vegetables, herbs, fish, crabs and snails, plus locally cultivated cereals, beans and lentils. They have almost forgotten these foods, the nutritional situation of the Adivasi of Odisha is very poor.
Good nutrition is not only the basis for a healthy and active life. It's foremost an internationally acknowledged human right.
Pregnant Women and Young Children need Vitamins and Minerals
Globally, almost every third person suffers from an under provision of vitamins and minerals. The symptoms are unspecific: fatigue, loss of appetite, exhaustion, susceptibility to infections or skin diseases. As a result, many people do not recognise the deficiency, but suffer their whole life from the consequences. Good nutrition is especially important for pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers, as well as children in their first 1000 days of life between conception and their second birthday. High infant and mother mortality can also be traced back to hidden hunger. The deficiency weakens the immune system and can, in combination with general undernourishment, lead to physical disabilities and limited mental development.
Beyond the acute emergency situation, hidden hunger can only be overcome when the causative problems are solved:
- Governments and development organisations must align their measures towards the improvement of food security, through cross-sector approaches.
- Alongside access to adequate food and sufficient quantity, the quality of food, i.e. the diversity of nutrition, must at long last be supported and local food systems strengthened.
- So that healthy food practices are not undercut by the marketing strategies of the food industry, governments must adopt international codes of conduct into their national legislation and take on the recommendations of the World Health Organisation on the marketing of breast milk substitutes, as well as the marketing of foods with high fat, salt and sugar content to children and enforce adherence to these regulations.
Welthungerhilfe focuses on food security and the intensive use of locally-available food crops, so that more people like the Adivasi in Odisha can rediscover the treasures in their region.