Ecuador: Annual losses of up to USD4,345 million due to poor nutrition

The National authorities of Ecuador estimate that poor nutrition of inhabitants is increasing the direct and indirect costs by USD4,345 million annually. 60% of this corresponds to malnutrition and 40% to overweight and obesity.

One of the reason for higher cost is decreased productivity (USD2,529 million) as infants and adolescents with malnutrition have fewer years of schooling. In adults, it is not related to adequate quantity of food but nutritional value of the food.

The officials revealed that 1 of out 2 children are malnourished and they do not necessarily belong to the poor households. The country now faces duel burden of malnutrition. 2014 statistics showed that chronic malnutrition (delay in height) in the population under 5 years of age is 23.9% while overweight is 6.6%.

In school going population (aged 5 to 11), overweight is 19.1% and obesity is 12.1%. In adolescents (aged 12 to 19), overweight is 19.9% ​​and obesity is 7.8%.

The government has developed programs (Nutrition Action or Zero Malnutrition) to eradicate this duel burden and these programs are expected to have an impact on education and productivity.

The provinces of Morona Santiago, Chimborazo and Carchi present the highest prevalence of malnutrition in children aged 0-2 years with rates of 38% and 42.5%. Statistics showed that 64% of the adult population is overweight.

Ecuador aims to eradicating malnutrition by 2030 as a part of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Ministry of health mandated food labelling which highlights the amount of fat, salt and sugar processed products. Other plans include reduction of calories in food and specific taxes on high calorie drinks and similar ones.

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