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Hunger in SA is becoming a major health crisis, with 27% of kids ...


Hunger in SA is becoming a major health crisis, with 27% of kids stunted

The number of malnourished overweight children has also grown — to more than twice the global figure

Irene Labuschagne

One in 10 South Africans (https://borgenproject.org/hunger-in-south-africa/) goes hungry every day. As a result, malnutrition levels are high. Malnutrition has three simultaneous dimensions: undernourishment, micronutrient deficiencies and over-nutrition.

These can manifest in stunting — being short for one’s age because of long-term undernutrition. In 2016 it was estimated (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2020.00166/full) to affect 27% among South African children. This is high. Africa is the only continent where stunting rates continue to rise (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2020.00166/full), with the same percentage of African children classified as stunted in 2018.

Another consequence of malnutrition is being overweight or obese. There has been a dramatic increase in both among adults in the country, from 29.6% in 1998 (https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/FR131/FR131.pdf#page=174) to 39.8% in 2016 (https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/FR337/FR337.pdf#page=319) in women aged 15 to 24. Among those aged 45 to 54 it increased from 72% in 1998 to 81.9% in 2016. Obesity and being overweight increased in men too...

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