Jul 5, 2014, 10:11 AM
News Code: 2720246
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Iran prioritizes reduction of malnutrition

Tehran, July 5, IRNA - The National Document of Nutrition and Food Security has been prepared to address malnutrition in the country's most deprived provinces, said Dr. Zahra Abdollahi, the Health Ministry’s deputy for improving nutrition.

Abdollahi named Sistan and Baluchestan, Hormuzgan and Kohgilouyeh and Boyer Ahmad as the most vulnerable provinces, when it comes to malnutrition, according to Iran Daily published on Saturday.

"Malnutrition is defined as low-weight, shortness and slimness," said Abdollahi,

explaining that 21 percent of children in Sistan-Baluchestan tend to grow into short adults due to malnutrition—the figure is three times the national average.

She said the rate of shortness stands at 12 and 11 percent in Kohgilouyeh-Boyer Ahmad and Hormuzgan provinces respectively, putting these provinces among the most malnourished provinces of Iran after Sistan and Baluchestan.

"The country's average rate of underweight children under five years of age stands at 4 percent," she said, adding that the figure rises to 12 and 12.9 percent in Hormuzgan and Sistan-Baluchestan provinces.

Abdollahi also said the document aims to reduce malnutrition across the country, particularly in less-developed provinces, in collaboration with different sectors.

"To address malnutrition and improve food security in the country, all related organizations, including those in charge of increasing income, creating jobs and improving employment, must cooperate with the Health Ministry."

The official noted that improving nutrition among children between the ages of three and five is among the main programs of the government for the current Iranian year (ending March 2015).

Abdollahi mentioned obesity as a type of malnutrition and said child obesity rate has doubled over the past 10 years in major Iranian cities.

"We have witnessed the problem of underweight children in deprived provinces and obese children in developed provinces simultaneously over the past decade," she said, warning about the consequences of child obesity. "Obesity can lead to cancers, high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases."

She explained that weight gain in adulthood is associated with infancy weight gain, which increases the need for monitoring mothers' nutrition during pregnancy.

“Both malnutrition and obesity could affect children's school performance and quality of life,” she said.