Millions Of Kids At Risk Of Nutritional Deficiencies

by | September 10, 2018

Rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) from farming practices, are starting to affect the food supply, notable staples such as rice and wheat. Causing the foods to present a risk of nutritional deficiencies, which could affect up to 175 million people being deficient in zinc and a staggering 122 million people being protein deficient by 2050. 

The research led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that 
 1 billion women and children could lose a large amount of their dietary iron intake, causing anemia and other diseases.

Risk Of Nutritional Deficiencies
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“Our research makes it clear that decisions we are making every day—how we heat our homes, what we eat, how we move around, what we choose to purchase—are making our food less nutritious and imperiling the health of other populations and future generations,” said Sam Myers, lead author of the study and principal research scientist at Harvard Chan School.

The study was published online August 27, 2018 in Nature Climate Change.

The study showed that by the middle of this century, when atmospheric CO2 concentrations are expected to reach around 550 ppm, 1.9% of the global population—or roughly 175 million people, based on 2050 population estimates—could become deficient in zinc and that 1.3% of the global population, or 122 million people, could become protein deficient. Additionally, 1.4 billion women of childbearing age and children under 5 who are currently at high risk of nutritional deficiencies such as iron. The deficiency could have their dietary iron intakes reduced by 4% or more.

Who is at risk of nutritional deficiencies?

The study claimed that India would see the greatest risk of nutritional deficiencies because of the rising levels, with women and children being affected the most. Countries in the same region of Asia would also be impacted.  

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“One thing this research illustrates is a core principle of the emerging field of planetary health,” said Myers, who directs the Planetary Health Alliance, co-housed at Harvard Chan School and Harvard University Center for the Environment. “We cannot disrupt most of the biophysical conditions to which we have adapted over millions of years without unanticipated impacts on our own health and wellbeing.”

“The risk of increased atmospheric CO2 on human nutritional adequacy,” Matthew R. Smith, Samuel S. Myers, online August 27, 2018, Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0253-3

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Emma Williams

Associate Editor, USA | Contactable via [email protected]

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