Sunday, 9 September 2012

MALNUTRITION: Indonesia Battles Child Malnutrition

03/09/2012 - Health experts state that child malnutrition remains a major concern in large parts of Indonesia, leading to wasting and stunting among children under five.
The news around child malnutrition is not all bad as rates of child malnourishment continue to drop in Indonesia.

The government estimated that 18 percent of under-five children were malnourished in 2012, compared to 31 percent in 1989. However, there are other signs that state that due to the population growth malnutrition in children under five has probably increased.

Despite the fact of whether the numbers are rising or falling, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), stunting and wasting, or when a child weighs too little for their height, still affects a large amount of children in the country, especially those who live in poverty.

UNICEF warns that malnutrition in the country remains a great concern, especially during times of food scarcity or disease outbreak, as children do not have built up strength.

There are repots that the government has taken steps to improve breastfeeding rates and promote timely complementary feeding in young children, hygiene, and Vitamin A, iron and zinc supplements.

However, according to the 2010 country Health Survey, one in three Indonesian children under the age of five still suffers from malnutrition - both acute and chronic.

Some 13 percent of the same group is acutely malnourished, which is on the cusp of the 15 percent threshold of a health “emergency”.

UNICEF estimates that malnutrition contributes to half the deaths of Indonesian children before they reach age five, and for those children who survive, malnutrition can impair brain development and hobble learning capacity, weaken a child’s immunity and increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and strokes.

According to a 2004 study by the University of Southern California, malnutrition in early childhood can even lead to antisocial and aggressive behavior throughout childhood and into late adolescence.

The study found that compared to those in the control group – the group that did not suffer from nutritional deficiencies – malnourished children showed a 41 percent increase in aggression at age 8, a 10 percent increase in aggression and delinquency at age 11 and a 51 percent increase in violent and antisocial behavior at age 17.

According to the Adrian Raine, who co-wrote the study, "Poor nutrition, characterized by zinc, iron, vitamin B and protein deficiencies, leads to low IQ, which leads to later antisocial behavior. These are all nutrients linked to brain development."

Researchers also found that the more indicators of malnutrition there were, the greater the antisocial behavior. Nutrition was of course not the only factor of violence behaviour, but it did demonstrate that a lack of proper nutrition affects more than physical development.

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