Global Nutrition Report 2016 – Calls for political action & data revolution to achieve progress on ‘nutrition’

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The 2016 Global Nutrition Report (GNR), released on June 14 in Washington, DC, provides an independent and annual review of the state of the world’s nutrition.

Global Nutrition Report 2016_1

The report, which is now in its third year, explores the progress made so far towards the recent nutrition-related global commitments and identifies opportunities for action to end malnutrition in all its form by 2030.

The 2016 GNR is split into nine chapters covering the relationship between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and malnutrition; how to measure and assess progress; past progress against malnutrition; financing and malnutrition; and taking action against malnutrition. Each chapter includes a number of key findings and calls to actions.

Key Takeaways

  • Malnutrition represents one of the biggest challenges facing the global community and directly affects one in three people in multiple forms, including undernourishment, overweight, mineral deficiencies, and excess sugar, salt, fat, or cholesterol levels.
  • Malnutrition causes significant economic losses – 11 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) per year in Africa and Asia.
  • In the United States (US), for every obese person in a household, that household’s health care bill increases by an equivalent of 8 percent of annual income.
  • The economic returns on investments preventing malnutrition are extremely high – $16 for every dollar $1 invested.
  • Countries, such as Brazil, Ghana, Peru and Vietnam, have seized these opportunities and made rapid progress in tackling malnutrition.
  • Most countries and regions are on course to achieve targets on child stunting (except for Africa), wasting, and overweight.
  • Most countries are off course on targets on obesity, diabetes, and anemia in women. Indeed, obesity and overweight rates, currently at 1.9 billion people, are rising in almost every country and are now approaching the same scale of other forms of malnutrition.
  • Nutrition plays a key role in achieving ‘sustainable development’ and has interrelationships with the majority of development sectors.
  • Improvements in nutrition are necessary for achieving progress on global health, education, poverty, female empowerment and inequality.
  • Poverty and inequality, water, sanitation and hygiene, education, food systems, climate change, social protection, and agriculture all have an important impact on nutrition outcomes.
  • Donors and governments that prioritised nutrition in their policy documents spent more on nutrition interventions and achieved better outcomes.
  • Businesses with stronger commitments to nutrition are more effective at delivering products, marketing, and labelling that support nutrition.
  • Gaps in data remain a significant roadblock to achieving progress on nutrition throughout the world, which prevents the compilation of an accurate picture on malnutrition, making it more difficult for governments to know, act, and be held accountable for malnutrition.

Financing to Combat Malnutrition

  • An analysis from 24 low- and middle-income countries shows that governments spend just 2.1 per cent of their budgets on combating undernutrition.
  • The donors’ allocations to nutrition-specific interventions have flat-lined at $1 billion.
  • The 10-year funding gap to meet the 2025 milestones for child stunting, severe acute malnutrition, breastfeeding, and anemia is estimated at US$70 billion.

The report provides a number of key recommendations intended to accelerate action against malnutrition and support the achievement of nutrition targets and the SDGs.


  • Calls on leaders from governments, donors, civil society organisations and businesses to make the political choice to end all forms of malnutrition.
  • Political commitment is crucial, and these commitments need to be supported by clear actions and investments in fighting malnutrition.
  • Considering the high rates of return to investing in combating malnutrition, there is also a clear need for additional financing.
  • Calls for a “data revolution” to collect the right types of data in order to spur further investments in nutrition.
  • Recommends that nutrition data be disaggregated to better understand where malnutrition exists in different forms.
  • Tackling malnutrition in all its forms will require multi-faceted actions across multiple sectors.
  • Governments in low- and middle-income-country will need to rapidly reduce undernutrition, while the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries will need to improve their domestic strategies to fight obesity.
  • All countries should also integrate the prevention and control of diabetes and obesity into their nutrition plans.

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