The undernourished children have lower resistance to infection and are more likely to die from common childhood ailments like diarrhoea and respiratory infections because a number of families cannot afford a balanced diet due to the hard economic times.
Jared Omondi, a Nutritional expert said chronic malnutrition leads to stunting, which is an irreversible condition with devastating effects, including diminished brains and physical development.
Speaking during an interview with KNA in Nakuru town on Wednesday, Omondi said although the country has made significant strides in reducing neonatal infant, and under-five mortality, one in every 26 children were likely to die before reaching one year of age, and one in every 19 will not survive to his or her fifth birthday.
The figures are confirmed by the 2015 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics report on children mortality.
He attributed the malnutrition of children in the country to high costs of domestic food production and low purchasing power, which makes it difficult for families to afford balanced diets for young ones.
“Most families just aim at filling the stomachs of the children to avoid hunger pangs, and that explains the high consumption of carbohydrates, which is mainly potatoes, ugali, and uji,’’ he stated.
He urged families to strive to ensure that children consume foods from the five essential food groups, fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts, dairy and eggs, fats and oils because that’s the only way of ensuring that they are not undernourished.
However, he said unless the economic status of the country improves the hope of reducing the number of undernourished children may take long to achieve.
He added that children in rural areas were not fairing any better because families tend to sell high protein foods like eggs and milk to get an income at the expense of their children’s health.
By Veronica Bosibori