Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: As per a latest UN Children's Fund (Unicef) report, at least five out of six children globally under two years of age do not receive adequate nutrition for physical and mental development.
Childhood nutrition during the first two years of life is critical to development and survival, and though there has been a reduction in chronic malnutrition over the past 10 years, stunting continues to affect 156 million children under the age of five, Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.
In all countries, rich and poor, breastfeeding gives children the best start and can save lives, yet too few children benefit, said the report.
The latest report focused on breastfeeding with recommendations that children be introduced to solid, semi-solid and soft foods at the age of six months, but has found that many are introduced to these foods too early or late, creating an adverse effect on health and development.
The report also urged mothers to breastfeed children until the age of two or older, in addition to complementary foods.
"Infants and young children have the greatest nutrient needs than at any other time in life. But the bodies and brains of millions of young children do not reach their full potential because they are receiving too little food, too late," France Begin, senior nutrition adviser at Unicef, said.
"Poor nutrition at such a young age causes irreversible mental and physical damage," she said.
(With IANS inputs)