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Stunted, Malnourished Children Significantly Less Able To Read And Write, Save The Children Report Says

“In addition to the serious health problems it causes, child malnutrition is costing the global economy tens of billions of dollars a year by depriving its victims of the ability to learn basic skills, according to a new report (.pdf) released Tuesday by Save the Children,” Inter Press Service reports. “Based on a multi-year study in four countries, the 23-page report found that chronically malnourished children — about one of every four children born today — are significantly less able to read, write a simple sentence, or perform basic arithmetic,” the news service writes (Lobe, 5/29). “The report — Food for Thought — is based on studies of thousands of children in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam,” BBC News notes, adding, “Th[e] study suggests that children aged eight who are stunted due to malnutrition were 19 percent more likely to make mistakes reading a simple sentence like ‘the sun is hot’ or ‘I like dogs’ than those with a balanced diet” (5/27).

Noting “Tuesday’s report says the impact of childhood malnutrition poses a major threat to the long-term economic growth of many developing countries,” VOA News adds, “Save the Children says tackling malnutrition should be a priority for G8 leaders meeting next month in Northern Ireland” (Hennessy, 5/28). The charity is also “urging [U.K. Prime Minister] David Cameron to commit Britain to spending £132 million [$199 million] a year until 2020 to combat malnutrition in poor countries before a hunger summit in London,” according to The Guardian. “The charity said the event on June 8, which takes place a week before the G8 summit …, could provide the necessary cash for nutrition, considered one of the most effective ways of making a meaningful impact on development,” the newspaper adds (Tran, 5/28). “The U.S. government is expected to come to London with robust funding for nutrition and a concrete, measurable plan to tackle the problem, including efforts to reform U.S. food aid policy that would feed two to four million more children at no extra cost,” a Save the Children press release notes (5/27).