Malnutrition is still a leading cause of death of young children throughout the world. For children under the age of two, the consequences of malnutrition are particularly severe, often irreversible, and reach far into the future. It is essential that children receive good nutrition right from the start. The first 1,000 days of a child’s life (from a mother’s pregnancy until the child’s second birthday) are the most crucial for determining their future development and success.
Nutrition-specific interventions are among the most impactful investments, particularly for women, adolescents and children. Limited access to health and nutrition at critical stages of life (including the early years, adolescence and pregnancy) can have lifelong consequences. It can continue cycles of intergenerational poverty and hold back women and girls from realizing their fullest potential.
Good nutrition can also strengthen other areas of development. Well-nourished children have stronger immune systems and as a result are less likely to get sick. Nutrition also improves the effectiveness of health interventions like vaccines. Additionally, adequate nutrition makes a huge difference in a child’s ability to attend school and learn there. Children with proper nutrition also earn 20% more in adult wages compared to undernourished children[1]

Key facts on nutrition

  • Canada is one of the world’s largest donors to basic nutrition programs and a leading innovator in nutrition. With the support of Canadian aid, Nutrition International was instrumental in scaling-up two of the most successful programs in global nutrition – vitamin A supplementation and salt iodization.[2]
  • Iron deficiency affects more than 2 billion people worldwide. The Lucky Iron Fish is a Canadian invention which aims to address the nutritional problem of iron deficiency by helping people consume iron more easily.[3]
  • The economic costs of undernutrition, in terms of lost national productivity and economic growth, are significant—ranging from 2 to 3% of GDP in some countries and up to 11% of GDP in Africa and Asia each year.[4]
  • Investing in nutrition yields permanent benefits, with at least a $16 return on investment for every $1 spent. [5] Children with proper nutrition earn 20% more in adult wages compared to undernourished children. [6]
  • Malnutrition affects one in three people globally, including the 149 million children worldwide who were stunted in 2019. [7]
  • 45% of all deaths of children under five are linked to malnutrition. Poor nutrition comprises the immune system (increasing vulnerability to life-threatening diseases) as well as the development of the body and mind.[8]
  • Malnutrition affects every country. No country is on track to meeting all nine global nutrition targets assessed in 2018.[9]

read about the progress on nutrition and the key milestones that have been achieved to date

  • 2019: Canada announced $1.4 billion annually (beginning in 2023) towards the health and rights of women, adolescents, and children
  • 2019: Canada announced a further $150 million in new funding for the Global Financing Facility (GFF)
  • 2018: Canada announced $50 million for the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents in November 2018
  • 2014: $150 million to the Micronutrient Initiative
  • 2014: Canada pledged $3.5 billion for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health at the Saving Every Women, Every Child Summit.
  • 2013: Minister Fantino attended the Nutrition for Growth Summit and announced a financial commitment of $58 million for nutrition specific interventions.
  • 2010: Canada leads the world pledging $1.1 billion to child and maternal health with the Muskoka Initiative at G8 Summit in 2010.

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