COMBATING HIDDEN HUNGER IN GHANA: THE ROLE OF THE HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL

2 min read /
Malnutrition

Optimal growth and child development cannot be achieved in the absence of good nutrition. The human body extracts 51 different compounds from food that it cannot produce by itself through metabolism.

Exclusive breastfeeding of infants from birth through 6 months is important for optimal health, growth, and development.  Nutrient requirements increase as infants grow and become more active. Beyond 6 months, the gap between infants’ requirements and the nutrients provided by breastmilk increases. Complementary foods that provide adequate iron are needed to fill the gap. If the iron gap is not filled, the child will become anaemic.

 

Hidden Hunger is a form of undernutrition that occurs when the intake and absorption of vitamins and minerals (such as zinc, iodine, and iron) are too low to sustain good health and development. It may exist and do its damage without any clinical symptoms or visible signs of illness. The causes of Hidden hunger are numerous and Health care professionals can play a critical role to combat it. They can promote:

  • Exclusive breastfeeding for up to 6 months followed by breastfeeding for up to 24 months with adequate and sufficient complementary food. This is an economic and sustainable way to prevent hidden hunger in children 
  • Optimum complementary feeding with a focus on a diverse diet which is essential to bridging micronutrient gaps and preventing deficiencies.

Hidden hunger may not always be visible, it is essential to intentionally provide adequate amounts of micronutrients in children’s diets to prevent micronutrient deficiency diseases.

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