Almost a third of the world’s stunted children live in India, according to a report published on Thursday. India has 46.6 million children suffer from inadequate development for their age, followed by Nigeria with 13.9 million stunted children and Pakistan with 10.7 million, the 2018 Global Nutrition Report said.
Stunting, or low height for age, is caused by long-term insufficient nutrition and frequent infections. Most of the stunted children are in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Maharashtra.
India also has the most number of children – 25.5 million – who are wasted. Wasting, or low weight in comparison to height, is caused by acute food shortage and disease. It is a strong indicator of mortality among children under the age of five. Nigeria with 3.4 million and Indonesia with 3.3 million are second and third on the list.
“More than half of the world’s children impacted by wasting [26.9 million] live in South Asia,” said the report. “Of the three countries that are home to almost half [47.2%] of all stunted children, two are in Asia, with India having 46.6 million [31%] and Pakistan having 10.7 million.”
According to the report, globally 150.8 million children under five years are stunted and 50.5 million are wasted. Both stunting and wasting are globally more prevalent in boys than girls. “Stunting is on average 25.6% among boys and 22.6% among girls, while wasting is on average 6.8% among boys and 5.7% among girls,” it added.
India is third on the list of countries with more than a million overweight children. The others are China, Indonesia, Egypt, the United States, Brazil and Pakistan. The prevalence of overweight children is the highest in upper-middle income countries and the lowest in low-income countries.