Dr. Stephen Cabral discusses the impact of inequality on the nutrition of mothers & children globally

food desert
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  • Almost 2.0 billion adults are either overweight or obese, while approximately 460 million are underweight.
  • In 2020, over 149 million children under the age of 5 were estimated to be stunted, and almost 40 million were either overweight or obese.
  • Around 45% of deaths among children under 5 years of age are linked to undernutrition- the majority of which occur in low and middle-income countries.
  • The global burden of malnutrition has significant developmental, economic, social, and medical impacts which are both very serious and long-lasting- for individuals, families, communities, and countries.

Household under-nutrition and food-related insecurity indubitably remain crucial for developing and third-world countries who are currently struggling with widespread prolific poverty rates.

This is particularly the case in countries where economic growth tends to benefit only a certain social or economic class within society, which tends to illustrate the significant impact of income inequality.

According to data produced by UNICEF, approximately 25% of people in the world currently lack access to safe and managed drinking water. Additionally, roughly 50% of our population lacks safely managed sanitation services, and over 2.1 billion individuals still do not have access to “basic hygiene services.”

According to Dr. Stephen Cabral- a prominent Doctor of Naturopathy, achieving universal coverage by the year 2030 with our current rate of progress is unfeasible, as these would have to practically “quadruple.”

If they do not, by the year 2030 we will likely still have over 1.5 billion individuals that do not have access to clean, safely managed drinking water, almost 2.0 billion individuals with no access to basic hygiene services, and roughly 2.8 billion without basic hygiene services.

A recent peer-reviewed study from BMC Medicine indicated that children in the lowest income brackets (bottom 20%) were almost three times as likely to suffer from: adverse growth rate stunting, malnutrition, and death in comparison to the children from the ‘’wealthiest 20% of households’’.

When adjusted for a child’s: age, gender, birth status, delivery assistance, antenatal care, and breastfed duration, the effect of household wealth still remains very significant.

Dr. Stephen Cabral– who has been donating the profits from all sales of his book the Rain Barrel Effect to non profit organizations that aim to support the nutrition of mothers and their children on a global level, recently shed light on this issue.

Various types of malnutrition

There are a variety of different types of Malnutrition that you should be aware of according to Dr. Cabral, let’s take a look at the most common and dangerous.


There are generally four forms of undernutrition, they are known as: stunting, underweight, wasting, and vitamin & mineral deficiencies.

“Undernutrition- in particular, is the most likely to cause significant health complications or death to young children”- Dr. Stephen Cabral.

Low weight-for-height undernutrition is most commonly referred to as ‘’wasting’’. This is because it tends to indicate a severe weight loss in a child- due to lack of an adequate food supply and/or as a result of an infectious disease. Whilst treatment is still possible in most cases, severely wasted children have a significantly higher risk of death according to the relevant data.

Low height-for-age undernutrition is what causes “stunting.” A result of recurrent or chronic malnutrition, it is usually associated with poor: maternal health, socioeconomic conditions, and infant feeding rates. Stunting can significantly ‘cap’ childrens’ physical and cognitive potential in the long term.

Underweight children (relatively low weight-for-age) can be wasted, stunted, or both.

Micronutrient-related malnutrition

An inadequate intake of minerals and vitamins can significantly affect a child’s growth and development.

“This is because micronutrients are essential to the body’s creation of enzymes, hormones and other growth-related substances.”- says Dr. Cabral

Deficiencies in Iodine, vitamin A, and iron particularly can represent a significant threat to the health and development of children on a global level- as well as to mothers in lower income nations.

Diet-related noncommunicable diseases

Diet-Related Noncommunicable Diseases (often known as NCDs) include a variety of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes according to Dr. Stephen Cabral. Poor nutrition and unhealthy diets remain very high risk factors for NCDs on a global level.

What can be done according to Dr. Cabral

According to Dr. Cabral, governments need to introduce initiatives across 6 distinct areas: a) providing nutrition-related education to all, b) forming resilient food systems for healthy diets that are universally sustainable, c) providing universal nutritional coverage and aligning health systems to individuals’ nutritional needs, d) tailor trade and investment policies so as to improve world-wide nutrition, e) promoting a robust culture of nutrition governance and accountability globally, and f) build supportive and safe nutrition support groups for all genders and ages.

It is worth noting that this is also consistent with the WHO’s 2016-2025 nutrition strategy, which aims to liaise with Member States and their partners so as to propel nutrition forward globally.

Conclusion: Dr. Stephen Cabral overview

Dr. Stephen Cabral is a popular Doctor of Naturopathy and Integrative Health Practitioner that has amassed a global following through his top-rated podcast and best-selling book. His prolific internship and clinical experience, personal history with integrative health, and 20 year dedication to the field means that his expertise, compassion and knowledge are second to none.

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