What is Hidden Hunger?
Hidden hunger is unlike the hunger that comes from a lack of food. It is a chronic lack of vitamins and minerals that often has no visible warning signs, so that people who suffer from it may not even be aware of it. Its consequences are nevertheless disastrous: hidden hunger can lead to mental impairment, poor health and productivity, or even death. One in three people in the world suffer from hidden hunger. Women and children from the lower income groups in developing countries are often the most affected.
As the longest-standing organization dedicated solely to work with micronutrients, the Micronutrient Initiative (MI) has developed an unmatched depth and breadth of experience in creating and implementing solutions for hidden hunger.
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies account for 10% of the global health burden
- People with deficiencies in key micronutrients suffer impaired development, disease and death
- The poor, and especially women and children, in developing countries are the most vulnerable
- 2 million children may die unnecessarily each year because they lack vitamin A, zinc or other nutrients.
- 18 million babies are born mentally impaired due to iodine deficiency each year.
- Iron deficiency undermines the health and energy of 40% of women in the developing world. Severe anemia kills more than 50,000 women a year during childbirth.
Why is fighting hidden hunger important?
Improving the health of individuals suffering from hidden hunger has wide-ranging economic benefits because lack of essential vitamins and minerals:
- can increase child and maternal mortality and cause birth defects and developmental disabilities
- contributes to and exacerbates global poverty
- constrains women's empowerment
- limits the productivity and economic growth of nations
MI works with developing countries to address deficiency in the following vitamins and minerals: vitamin A, iodine, iron, zinc and folic acid. [each nutrient links to the relevant nutrient page]
More information about hidden hunger:
Vitamin and mineral deficiency report prepared by the Micronutrient Initiative and UNICEF.
Alleviating Hidden Hunger, Approaches That Work.