India, host to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, has led the largest food and
nutrition security programmes, such as the Integrated Child Development
Services (which reaches over 50 million children), the Midday Meal Scheme
and the Public Distribution System, although it still remains home to the
highest number of malnourished children.
Globally, more than 3 million children die every year from undernutritionrelated causes.
An estimated one-third of children under five years old in the developing world
are stunted – that’s 195 million children – and 129 million are underweight.
The critical period, when malnutrition can have the most irrevocable impact, is
during the 33 months from conception to a child’s second birthday – the first
After two years of age, it is much harder to reverse the effects of chronic
malnutrition, particularly its impact on the development of the brain.
Thirty per cent of the world’s population lives in the 54 diverse countries
that make up the Commonwealth – and at least 64% of the world’s
Nearly half of all under-fives in India are undernourished, almost 7 million of
them with severe acute malnutrition.
Bangladesh and Pakistan have high rates of malnourished children – 41% and
Of the African Commonwealth countries, Sierra Leone (21%) and Nigeria (23%)
have the highest proportions of malnourished children, Nigeria having the highest
actual number, with more than 5.75 million.