More than 840 million people do not get enough food to meet their daily
energy needs. However, far more—an estimated 3 billion people—suffer the insidious effects of micronutrient deficiencies because they lack access to more nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, and animal products. The consequences of micronutrient malnutrition, also known as ‘hidden hunger,’ can be devastating; they include stunting, impaired cognitive ability, blindness, increased risk of disease, and premature death. Women and young children in developing countries are especially vulnerable.
Vitamin A, zinc, and iron are among the micronutrients most lacking in the diets of the poor in the developing world. Providing such nutrients through supplements and food fortificants has accomplished much in regions with a strong health and market infrastructure. However, in many developing countries, this necessary infrastructure is inadequate, non-existent, or simply does not serve rural areas where the vast majority of poor malnourished people live.
New approaches are needed to complement these existing strategies.