One in four Putrajaya tots experience stunted growth

Modified 1 Dec 2017, 9:59 am

Putrajaya may have the highest obesity rates in the country, but a study found that many children in the administrative capital are actually malnourished.

The National Health and Morbidity Survey 2016 found that one-in-four children in Putrajaya suffered from growth-stunting due to malnutrition.

"The survey found that 28 percent of children aged 12 to 23 months in the nation's administrative capital suffer from stunting, a condition in which a child shows less height growth than his or her peers," said a report by Edge Malaysia Weekly.

The study was jointly conducted by the Health Ministry and Unicef Malaysia.

Nationwide, 20.7 percent of children experience growth stunt, according to Malaysia's first voluntary national review of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, presented to the UN General Assembly in New York in June.

According to the report, one reason for this was food insecurity due to financial constraints.

Effect on economic development

Child malnutrition, said experts, can stunt economic development as well.

"It is not just about a child being two inches shorter (than the average of his peers), cognitive development is impaired," says Unicef Malaysia researcher Dr Amjad Rabi.

Amjad said this can affect learning abilities which will result in lower workforce productivity in the long run.

Productivity, said Amjad, was the new measure for economic growth and not just adding volume to the workforce.

However, the 2015 Household Income survey showed that only 69 percent of Malaysian youths attend secondary school and 22 percent sought tertiary education - far behind OECD levels.

"Malaysia has advanced technological and physical infrastructure, but unless the entire labour force has the skillsets to match, there is a risk of widening income inequality," said Amjad.

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