Child Hunger - Compassion International

Hunger Facts
Get the facts about hunger and how it affects children and their families.

hunger facts graphic

One of the primary symptoms of poverty in children is hunger. The facts about hunger clearly show its relationship to other symptoms of poverty around the world such as malnutrition, low birth rate and poor health. In fact, the hunger facts are just a small glimpse into the destruction that poverty causes.

Each year, millions of children die from malnutrition. This is one of the most sobering facts about hunger – it steals life from the most innocent and vulnerable … children. Hunger is preventable, but it requires knowledge and action.

Proper nutrition for every child in our programs is a priority of ours. Our child development centers provide children with nutritious meals and snacks on program activity days, and we train children about the importance of a balanced diet.

Staff members at our local church-based centers are also trained to detect malnutrition among the children they serve and take immediate action on their behalf. Often that means a program of emergency feeding and vitamin supplements for a severely malnourished child, as well as working with the child’s caregivers to ensure that meals at home meet nutritional needs.

Children sit in a classroom at ttables eating their food

  • About 795 million people are undernourished globally, just over one in nine; the vast majority of the hungry (98 percent), live in the developing regions. 1
  • Nearly 11 percent of the world’s population is undernourished. 1
  • In sub-Saharan Africa one person in four is undernourished. 1
  • Two-thirds of the world’s hungry live in Asia. 1
  • Close to one-fifth of all children under five remain undernourished. 2
  • Nearly half of all deaths in children under age 5 are attributable to undernutrition. This translates into the unnecessary loss of about 3 million young lives a year. 3
Chronically undernourished children who manage to survive their first five years, often live with devastating results. Their bodies are stunted physically, they are highly susceptible to illness, and their brains are underdeveloped. The hope of reaching their full, God-given potential is all but shattered.
  • Close to 156 million children are stunted, a result of undernutrition and infection. 4
  • Undernutrition contributes to 35 percent of deaths due to measles, malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea. 4
  • In developing countries (where 92 percent of children live) 30 in 100 will be stunted. 4
  • About two billion people have been freed from a likely state of hunger over the past 25 years. 1
  • China accounts for almost two-thirds of the reduction in the number of undernourished people in the developing regions between 1990–92 and 2014–16. 1
  • The number of undernourished people in Latin America has fallen from 58 million to fewer than 27 million. 1
  • In 1990, only 12 countries in Africa were facing food crises, of which only four were in protracted crises. Twenty years later, a total of 24 countries were experiencing food crises, with 19 in crisis for eight or more of the previous ten years. 1
How do the UN Sustainable Development Goals relate to Compassion?

several children look outside through a window

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) directly parallel what Compassion does. But when it comes to goals and implementation we sometimes take a different approach. This is a quick analysis of the SDGs and how they most closely match our work, along with ways they overlap and differ.