The presentation of the annual UNICEF Report on the situation of children in the world was held in Ashgabat. For the first time in 20 years, this 2019 edition examines the issue of children, food and nutrition, providing a fresh perspective on a rapidly evolving challenge. It is worthy to note that the report was presented on the eve of the World Food Day, which is celebrated today, on October 16.
“For every child, food is life – a fundamental right and a foundation of healthy nutrition and sound physical and mental development,” Kristin Weigand, UNICEF Representative in Turkmenistan, said in her opening speech.
At the center of this challenge is a broken food system that fails to provide children with the diets they need to grow healthy. Globalization is driving unprecedented negative changes in the nutrition situation of children around the world. It has transformed systems that “deliver” food from the fields to the table. At the same time, there is a huge market of non-healthy fast foods, and the developed marketing of unhealthy foods for children.
The report shows, despite progress in the past two decades, one third of children under age 5 are malnourished – stunted, wasted or overweight – while two thirds are at risk of malnutrition and hidden hunger because of the poor quality of their diets undermining their capacity to grow and develop to their full potential.
“We should not only provide children with enough food, but also with proper and healthy food for life,” Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, said. “I want to emphasize again my commitment to use all of these opportunities to work for better nutrition for every child, especially in the crucial first 1,000 days and during adolescence.”
Investing in child nutrition is key to human capital formation because nutrition is central to children’s growth, cognitive development, and future productivity. Sound nutrition is fundamental to children’s well-being and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. It needs to be put at the heart of government policy and supported by key stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector.
In Turkmenistan, where an appropriate legislative framework has been formed in the field of healthy nutrition of the population, the promotion of good nutrition and the development of healthy, sustainable food systems is a national policy priority. The country invests in health infrastructure. It should be noted that investment in the nutrition of children and young people is one of the important conditions for achieving the SDGs.
The National Strategy for Healthy Nutrition of the Population of Turkmenistan for 2019-2025 provides the analysis of the current situation in this area, as well as sets the tasks and specific measures that should be taken to meet the relevant requirements.
“Good nutrition paves the way for a fair chance in life. Let us work together to lower these barriers and to ensure that every child, young person and woman has the nutritious, safe, affordable and sustainable diets they need at every moment of life to meet their full potential,” Kristin Weigand said in conclusion.