Poor nutrition is increasing rates of diabetes, cancers, heart attacks and stroke

12 December 2019 – Malnutrition, in all its forms, is negatively impacting the health, well-being and sustainable development of people of all ages in WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region, particularly in those countries affected by conflict in which people are experiencing high levels of food insecurity, undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. In the Region, nearly 20.2 million children under-5 years of age are stunted by poor nutrition, while half of adult women (50.1%) and more than two in five men (43.8%) are overweight or obese, and over 15% of children and more than half of adolescents are overweight or obese. Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), namely heart attacks and stroke, cancers, diabetes and lung disease, are cutting lives short. NCDs are now responsible for two thirds of deaths in the Region and unhealthy diet is a key contributor to this burden.

WHO is calling on governments to take action to improve nutrition, to reduce the burden of diet-related NCDs, and reduce undernutrition associated with conflict and political instability. In September 2015, the world agreed to eliminate all forms of malnutrition by 2030 when Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its related goals. Addressing malnutrition in all its forms is firmly embedded in SDG 2 – which aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture – and SDG 3 to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

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Statistics and figures

WHO has several nutrition-related global databases. They include data for countries in the Region. Please click on the links to access them.

Vitamin and Mineral Nutrition Information System

WHO Global Database on Body Mass Index

WHO Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition

WHO Global Data Bank on Infant and Young Child Feeding

Some nutrition-related data from the Regional Health Observatory:

Estimates of anaemia in non-pregnant women of reproductive age

Anaemia in preschool-age children

Trend estimates for under 5 child malnutrition: