Global Health Observatory (GHO)

Chronic malnutrition in children


Globally, malnutrition among under-five children is less common in urban areas, compared with rural areas. Yet, these urban averages mask substantial differences within cities. The prevalence of stunting among the poorest urban children is three times greater than among the richest urban children. The children in poor households are not the only ones prone to malnutrition; in general, the middle classes also suffer more childhood stunting than the richest families. The risk of chronic malnutrition increases progressively as family income declines.


There has been limited progress in reducing chronic childhood malnutrition – stunting – especially in Asia and Africa in urban areas between 1990s and 2000-2007. In fact in Africa on average there has been an increase in stunting among the poorest 20% urban populations from 35% to 37%. In Asia, stunting remains high, on average, at 36% for the poorest 20% urban children.


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