Invest in nutrition to ensure children meet their potential, say UK public

15 October 2020

A recent poll found that the majority of the UK public support calls for the UK Government to step up in the fight against malnutrition. The poll comes on World Food Day, as charities urgently press the Government to renew their commitments to tackle global malnutrition, which are set to expire at the end of this year.

Malnutrition contributes to 45% of all under-5 deaths worldwide. It is estimated that 487 more children per day could die of undernutrition in 2020 than was predicted before the pandemic due to the effect COVID-19 is having on health systems and livelihoods. Children who suffer stunted growth due to malnutrition are susceptible to ill health throughout their life and therefore less likely than healthy children to meet their full potential in school or as adults.

The poll of 2174 people, conducted by Savanta ComRes and commissioned by RESULTS UK, found that seven in ten UK adults agree that:

  • Governments should take steps to reduce the number of children suffering from malnutrition, if children are to meet their full potential in school (69% vs 8% who disagree) or meet their full earning potential as adults (68% vs 7% who disagree);
  • Food systems should be reformed to produce nutritious and healthy food that does not pollute the planet (68% vs 7% who disagree);
  • The UK Government should work with other governments and organisations to ensure everyone can afford a healthy diet (67% vs 10% who disagree).

Three in five (61%) UK adults agree that:

  • As we recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the UK should use its overseas aid budget to invest in nutrition, which prevents ill health and therefore helps to reduce the impact of future disease outbreaks. This compares to 13% who disagree.

At least half of UK adults agree that:

  • Ensuring all children are able to meet their full potential in life by having access to good nutrition should be a top priority for UK overseas aid (54% vs 17% who disagree);
  • Tackling malnutrition should be one of the top 3 priorities for UK overseas aid (52% vs 18% who disagree);
  • Reducing the number of deaths from malnutrition worldwide should be a top priority for UK overseas aid (50% vs 21% who disagree).

Responding to the poll, Aaron Oxley, Executive Director of RESULTS UK, said:

“This is yet another piece of evidence for why the FCDO must urgently re-commit to nutrition and avoid a catastrophic cliff edge in commitments at the end of this year. Good nutrition is essential for children to develop a strong immune system and succeed in school – two key ingredients for leading a healthy, happy and successful life. We know that UK aid spent on nutrition is high impact and delivers excellent value for money – and now we can also be confident that investing in nutrition has the overwhelming support of the UK public.”  

Savanta ComRes interviewed 2,174 UK adults online between 28th and 30th August 2020. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of the UK by age, gender, region and social grade. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full tables can be downloaded below or at www.comresglobal.com

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RESULTS UK is a charity registered as RESULTS Education in England and Wales (1015286), a company limited by guarantee (2761858), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC041481).