Malnutrition and hidden hunger

Hidden hunger

When there is a lack of vitamins and minerals, health and development suffer. Globally, two billion people are affected.

A boy grabs for the rainbow, in which the most diverse foods are to be found. Rainbow nutrition should be colourful and diverse. An illustration by Julia Zejn.
Rainbow nutrition: it should be diverse and colourful. ©

(13/10/2014) Every human needs micronutrients, i.e. vitamins, minerals and trace elements, in order to develop healthily. If vitamin A, iodine, iron or other important nutrients are missing, physical and mental health suffers. Two billion people worldwide suffer from hidden hunger – in developing, emerging and industrial countries. People can rarely describe the specific symptoms. This is why this form of malnutrition is known as hidden hunger.

Children and pregnant women have the greatest needs

Every person who eats an unbalanced diet can be affected by hidden hunger. For pregnant women and small children malnutrition is particularly dangerous: complications in pregnancy and during the birth, low birth weight, delayed growth, a reduced ability to learn and a life-long risk of chronic illnesses can be the consequences. The solution lies in balanced nutrition and access to diverse and nutrient-rich foods.

The enrichment of staple foods also plays a role in the fight against deficiency symptoms. The advantages and risks of such measures should, however, be balanced carefully.

Stories and reports on hidden hunger
The Adivasi in India appreciate the diversity. © Brockmann

Full but not healthy

Even someone who has enough to eat can suffer from hunger. Some Adivasi in India are getting to know the value of diversity again.

An appeal for a colourful plate

Valentin from Peru skips and laughs again. ©

Healthy nutrition at kindergarten

Valentin was not always so alert: the four-year-old suffered from iron deficiency. "I had no idea", says his mother today.

Valentin's story of fruit salad and iron drops

Super hero Golden Rice? ©

The promise of super rice

The rice is yellow from beta-carotene. However, enriched foods only alleviate hunger in a limited way.

Interview with a nutritionist

Ute Latzke

Ute Latzke




Hunger on the international agenda

Hunger on the international agenda


Hunger on the international agenda

From 19th to 21st November in Rome the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) will take place under the leadership of the FAO and WHO. We will present the results of the Global Hunger Index.