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Joint UNICEF/WHO/The World Bank Child malnutrition database

In September 2013 UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank updated their joint database on child malnutrition and released new global and regional estimates for 2012. For the first time, the database contains global and regional estimates of wasting and severe wasting.

Main Findings


Globally, 162 million under-five year olds were stunted in 2012.

The global trend in stunting prevalence and the burden continues to decrease. Between 2000 and 2012 stunting prevalence declined from 33% to 25% and burden declined from 197 million to 162 million.

In 2012, 56% of all stunted children lived in Asia and 36% in Africa.


Globally, 99 million under-five year olds were underweight in 2012.

The global trend in underweight prevalence continues to decrease, but at a slow pace. Between 1990 and 2012 underweight prevalence decreased from 25% to 15%, which remains insufficient to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the 1990 prevalence by 2015.

In 2012, 67% of all underweight children lived in Asia and 29% in Africa.

Wasting and severe wasting

Based on prevalence data1, globally, 51 million under-five year olds were wasted and 17 million were severely wasted in 2012.

Globally, moderate wasting and severe wasting prevalence in 2012 were estimated at almost 8% and just less than 3% respectively.

In 2012, approximately 71% of all severely wasted children resided in Asia and 28% in Africa, with similar figures for wasted children at 69% and 28% respectively.


Globally, 44 million under-five year olds were overweight in 2012.

The global trend in overweight prevalence and burden is rising. Between 2000 and 2012 overweight prevalence increased from 5% to 7% and the global burden increased from 32 million to 44 million. The rise in overweight prevalence is reflected in all regions, while the burden is increasing in Africa, Asia and the developed countries, but stagnating in Latin America and Oceania.

In 2012, overweight prevalence was highest in Southern Africa (18%), Central Asia (12%) and Southern America (7%).

Data Dashboards

Six on-line interactive dashboards were developed to allow users to explore the entire time-series (1990 – 2012) of global and regional estimates of prevalence and burden for stunting, underweight, overweight, wasting and severe wasting indicators by various country regional and income group classifications.

The dashboards are available on-line

Show footnotes

1Note that there is a strong case for estimates of wasting to be based on incidence data as it is thought that prevalence data underestimates the true burden globally.

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Joint UNICEF/WHO/The World Bank Child malnutrition database. Nutrition Exchange 4, July 2014. p4.



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