How Important Is Early Childhood Nutrition?

Malaysian children show signs of poor nutrition

Early childhood nutrition is something that every parent is concerned about. You want your children to thrive, but what about when food is scarce or too expensive? What damage does this do to a child who is developing? Unfortunately, the consequences are wide-ranging and dire. 

Children who don’t have access to good, healthy food face significant challenges. Nutrition plays a central role in our development and growth. A lack of proper nutrition doesn’t just impact a child at the moment. It continues to affect them as they grow and become adults. 

Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamins have been linked to various aspects of health for a long time. We know how to make someone strong and healthy. The way to do it is to provide them with the vitamins and minerals they need to grow when they are still young. 

Not having access to enough food can lead to acute vitamin deficiency. This can lead to weaker immune systems, eyesight, and even weaker bones. The problem is these deficiencies won’t improve as the child ages. Early childhood nutrition is central to a long, healthy life. 

There are other vitamins, like vitamins B and C, that are also essential. Failure to get a decent quantity of these vitamins can lead to additional problems. In some cases, a failure to intake decent vitamins can even lead to diseases like scurvy. 

Cognitive Development

Food plays an intrinsic role in developing our brain power. Without proper nutrition, a child is far more likely to develop cognitive disabilities. There is also the extreme mental strain that is placed upon the mind and body when food is scarce, making it difficult to think of anything else. 

Thankfully, it’s not impossible for some children to succeed in academics even if they grow up poor. Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. Some children will never be able to recover from their initial lack of food and vital nutrients. 

While it can be a feel-good story to hear about someone rising up from nothing to achieve great things, this is an uncommon tale. Most of the people who grow up lacking in food and proper nutrition will face food security challenges for the rest of their lives. 

Physical Development

Having adequate food resources as a child is shown to aid in the growth of children. Those who have proper childhood nutrition often grow stronger and taller because of it. Those without can become stunted. This is seen in populations where famine is rampant, such as North Korea. 

Another aspect of impaired physical development is chronic disease stunting growth. With the aforementioned vitamin deficiency, the child’s immune system won’t be able to fight off diseases. This can lead to disabilities of various kinds, all of which will affect physical development. 

Even if a child doesn’t develop disabilities or physical impairments, poor nutrition will prevent them from reaching their potential. Maintaining a healthy, athletic body requires hard work, good nutrition, and access to facilities. If you remove one component of this, success will be limited.

A young girl plays tennis

Starvation vs. Deprivation

It is a common misconception that just having food, any food, is sufficient. The reality is that the type of food that is available is important. There are many areas of the world where people aren’t starving, but children can still suffer from improper nutrition. 

Children need access to a variety of foods. There are many different nutrients and vitamins that are essential for human development. In many poor areas, children may only have access to a staple crop, such as rice or corn. This is not enough variety for a human to thrive on. 

For proper development, children need access to fruits and vegetables as well as meat. This type of diet is not the cheapest and presents a significant issue for many families around the world. This is not just a problem in developing countries but also in countries like the United States.

How Can We Help?

Coweta Community Baptist Packaging Event

The good news for children around the world is that there are organizations that are doing everything they can to help. Groups like Against Global Hunger have developed infrastructure and systems that make getting good, healthy food easier than ever before. 

If you want to donate to a good cause, consider donating to Against Global Hunger. As little as $7 can provide up to 20 meals. We grow enough food in the United States to defeat hunger all over the world, but it takes the donations and actions of everyday people to achieve the results we all desire. 

In addition to money, you can also volunteer your time. We could use all the help we can get to achieve our goal of ending hunger for children around the world.