World Health Organization (WHO) has released its Global Nutrition Report 2020 which predicts that India will miss the global nutrition targets by 2025.


GS Paper II: Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Context: World Health Organization (WHO) has recently released its Global Nutrition Report 2020 which predicts that India will miss the global nutrition targets by 2025.



In 2012, the World Health Assembly identified six nutrition targets for maternal, infant and young child nutrition to be met by 2025. These require governments to

  1. Reduce stunting by 40% in children under 5.
  2. Reduce prevalence of anaemia by 50% among women in the age group of 19-49 years.
  3. Ensure 30% reduction in low-birth weight
  4. Ensure no increase in childhood overweight.
  5. Increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months up to at least 50%.
  6. Reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%.

Key Highlights of Global Nutrition Report 2020

  • As per the findings of the report, India is among the 88 countries that are likely to miss global nutrition targets by 2025.
  • The report also identified India as the country with the highest rates of domestic inequalities in malnutrition.
  • According to the Global Nutrition Report 2020, India will miss targets for all four nutritional indicators for which there is data available, i.e.
    • Stunting among under-5 children
    • Anaemia among women of reproductive age
    • Childhood overweight
    • Exclusive breastfeeding

READ MORE | Global Report on Food Crisis 2020

What does the report says about underweight children?

  • As per the Report, between 2000 and 2016, rates of underweight have decreased from 66.0% to 58.1% for boys and 54.2% to 50.1% in girls.
  • However, this is still high compared to the average of 35.6% for boys and 31.8% for girls in Asia.
  • Apart from this, 37.9% of children under 5 years are stunted and 20.8% are wasted, compared to the Asia average of 22.7% and 9.4% respectively.
  • The report also noted that one in two women of reproductive age is anaemic, while at the same time the rate of overweight and obesity continues to rise, which affects almost 1/5th of the adults, at 21.6% of women and 17.8% of men.

What about Stunting Level?

The report puts down its focus on the link between malnutrition and different forms of inequity, such as those based on geographic location, age, gender, ethnicity, education and wealth malnutrition in all its forms.

  • The report notice that the inequity is a cause of malnutrition — both under-nutrition and overweight, obesity and other diet-related chronic diseases.
  • As per the report, inequities in food and health systems give a boost to inequalities in nutrition outcomes that in turn can lead to more inequity, perpetuating a vicious cycle.

READ MORE | Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID) 2020

What more is said about India in the Global Nutrition Report 2020?

  • The Report identifies India as among the three worst countries, along with Nigeria and Indonesia, for steep within-country disparities on stunting, where the levels varied four-fold across communities.
  • It also found that the stunting level in Uttar Pradesh is more than 40% and their rate among individuals in the lowest income group is more than double those in the highest income group at 22.0% and 50.7%, respectively.
  • Besides, the Report found that the stunting prevalence is 10.1% higher in rural areas compared to urban areas.
  • Same is the case for overweight and obesity, where there are nearly double as many obese adult females than there are males (5.1% compared to 2.7%).

The 2020 Global Nutrition Report in the context of Covid-19

  • According to the report, undernourished people who have a weaker immune system, may be at greater risk of severe illness due to the virus.
  • At the same time, poor metabolic health, including obesity and diabetes, is strongly linked to worse Covid-19 outcomes, including risk of hospitalisation and death.
  • The Report marks Covid-19 does not treat us equally.”
  • Further, the report notes that Covid-19 exposes the vulnerability and weaknesses of our already fragile food systems.”
    • Covid-19 has tested our food systems, already stressed by increasing climate extremes.
    • Containing the virus has caused food and nutrition shortages and driven governments to reduce social services, such as school nutrition programmes, that the most marginalised rely upon.
    • In the context of food and nutrition shortages, accessibility and affordability of healthy, sustainably produced food becomes even more challenging.
    • Access to staple food distribution and local food markets is at risk.
    • Millions of households in formerly food-secure regions of the world have fallen into severe food insecurity.
  • To a matter of fact, Covid-19 exposes deadly healthcare disparities“.
    • The 2020 Global Nutrition Report highlights the need to integrate nutrition into universal health coverage as an indispensable prerequisite for improving diets, saving lives and reducing healthcare spending, while ensuring that no one is left behind.
    • Reversing the obesity epidemic would also lessen the burden on our healthcare systems.
    • This is because the obesity is not only one of the costliest health conditions but also a major risk of Covid-19 hospitalisations and complications.

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PRELIMS Background Bites


  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized UN agency responsible for international public health.
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with six semi-autonomous regional offices and 150 field offices worldwide.
  • The WHO was established in 7 April 1948, which is commemorated as World Health Day.
  • Its flagship publication, the World Health Report, provides expert assessments of global health topics and health statistics on all nations.
  • The WHA, composed of representatives from all 194 member states, serves as the agency’s supreme decision-making body.
  • The current Director-General is Tedros Adhanom, former Health Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, who began his five-year term on 1 July 2017.
  • As of 2018, it has a budget of over $4.2 billion, most of which comes from voluntary contributions from member states.
  • WHO is part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.


Operational History of WHO
  • 1955: The malaria eradication programme was launched, although it was later altered in objective.
  • 1958: A global initiative to eradicate smallpox was launched. At this point, 2 million people were dying from smallpox every year.
  • 1967: The WHO intensified the global smallpox eradication by contributing $2.4 million annually to the effort and adopted a new disease surveillance method.
  • 1967: The WHO launched the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases.
  • 1977: The first list of essential medicines was drawn up, and a year later the ambitious goal of “Health For All” was declared.
  • 1986: The WHO began its global programme on HIV/AIDS.
  • 1988: The Global Polio Eradication Initiative was established.
  • 2000: The Stop TB Partnership was created along with the UN’s formulation of the Millennium Development Goals.
  • 2001: The measles initiative was formed, and credited with reducing global deaths from the disease by 68% by 2007.
  • 2002: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was drawn up to improve the resources available.
  • 2006: The organization endorsed the world’s first official HIV/AIDS Toolkit for Zimbabwe, which formed the basis for global prevention, treatment, and support the plan to fight the AIDS pandemic.
  • 2012-13: The 2012–2013 WHO budget identified 5 areas among which funding was distributed.
    • Two of those five areas related to communicable diseases: the first, to reduce the “health, social and economic burden” of communicable diseases in general; the second to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in particular.
  • 2018 (30 October – 1 November): 1 WHO’s first global conference on air pollution and health organized in collaboration with UN Environment, World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • April 2019: WHO released new recommendations stating that children between the ages of two and five should spend no more than one hour per day engaging in sedentary behavior in front of a screen.

  • On 5 May 2014, WHO announced that the spread of polio was a world health emergency – outbreaks of the disease in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East were considered “extraordinary”.
  • On 8 August 2014, WHO declared that the spread of Ebola was a public health emergency; an outbreak which was believed to have started in Guinea had spread to other nearby countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone.
  • On 30 January 2020, the WHO declared the COVID-19 pandemic was a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).


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