Tackling Protein-Calorie Malnutrition during World Crises

Zahra Ali Padhani, Jai K. Das, Saeed Akhtar, Tariq Ismail, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Undernutrition is still highly prevalent in developing countries and leads to a multitude of problems as it weakens the immune system, which leads to increased risk of infections and diet-related diseases. COVID-19 has worsened the existing situation and has resulted in unprecedented health, social, and economic disruptions across the world. Before COVID-19, about 54% children under 5 years were moderately or seriously malnourished, and after the COVID-19 pandemic, early estimates suggest that an additional 2.6 million children were stunted; 9.3 million were wasted, with an addition of 2.1 million maternal anemia cases; 168,000 child deaths; and USD 29.7 billion in productivity losses. This review is mainly focused on the health and nutrition sectors and highlights the impact of COVID-19 on malnutrition, food system and industry, and it also discusses the various measures implemented across the world to cater the burden of maternal and child malnutrition. Movement restrictions and lockdowns within and across the countries/borders have imposed an unprecedented stress and shock on the food supply chain, affecting harvest, food processing, supply, logistics, food demand, shortages, and cost. Many countries have implemented interventions such as cash transfers, food ration distribution, insurance plans, utility subsidy, and tax exemptions to assist the population to cope with the financial and health issues caused due to the outbreak. Other than these measures, evidence recommends some essential direct and indirect interventions which could help in reducing malnutrition during COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has re-demonstrated the connection between food systems, nutrition, health, and prosperity and the need for a more holistic approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-37
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Nutrition and Metabolism
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Malnutrition
  • Pandemic
  • Protein-calorie malnutrition


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