How Can Hunger Be "Hidden"?

How can hunger be hidden?

If a person perpetually goes hungry, doesn't it show? Don't they become thin and weak and unable to perform daily tasks? How can the effects of hunger be hidden from the public?

According to the 2014 Global Hunger Index, more than 2 billion people worldwide suffer from "hidden hunger" - that's double the 805 million people who don't get enough calories every day. 

What is hunger, then? It seems like an easy question to answer - it’s when my stomach is growling before dinner; it’s needing to eat but not having anything in the fridge; it’s sending my child to school without breakfast.

But it's also more than that.

At it's most basic level, we understand hunger to be a lack of food. But sometimes a person consumes enough calories per day, and still suffers mental and physical underdevelopment related to eating the wrong kinds of food.

That's what we call malnutrition, which encompasses both undernutrition - not getting the energy, protein, and/or vitamins & minerals you need - and overnutrition - eating more calories than your body needs.

Think of it this way - if I eat froot loops with no milk for breakfast, a fast food burger and fries for lunch, and white toast with jam for dinner, I may not suffer from lack of calories, but I will suffer from hidden hunger. I will not get all of the vitamins, protein, fiber, and minerals I need to have a healthy body and mind. 

Likewise - if I'm a young boy living in Burundi, I may eat the daily recommended amount of calories in the form of corn and white rice, but I may not get enough protein because my family is too poor to buy beans, or iron because we can't afford red meat and leafy greens. 

So, the Burundi boy's hunger is hidden. 

Though he's shorter than the average child his age, he otherwise look pretty normal. Inside, however, his body is screaming for help. He suffer from night-vision blindness, inability to concentrate at school, low energy from anemia, and is much more susceptible to contracting infections and illnesses. The effects of this hidden hunger will last his whole life.

So how can hunger be hidden? It's hidden in the quality of food, not the quantity.

Help improve the quality of food for children around the world today.

distress related to lack of food
an abnormal physiological condition, typically due to eating the wrong amount and/or kinds of foods; encompasses undernutrition and overnutrition
deficiencies in energy, protein, and/or essential vitamins and minerals
a form of undernutrition that occurs when intake or absorption of vitamins and minerals is too low to sustain good health and development in children and normal physical and metal function in adults. Causes include poor diet, disease, or increased micronutrient needs not met during pregnancy and lactation
chronic calorie deficiency, with consumption of less than 1,800 kilocalories a day, the minimum most people need to live a healthy, productive life
excess intake of energy or micronutrients



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Food for the Hungry: How Can Hunger Be "Hidden"?
How Can Hunger Be "Hidden"?
Food for the Hungry
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