Childhood Malnutrition Must be Seen to be Solved

We continue to work alongside Real Madrid and the Real Madrid Foundation to identify and fight malnutrition.

When it comes to childhood malnutrition, the facts matter. And they focus our attention on what matters. Malnutrition can affect any child, anywhere. It also takes on many forms, from undernutrition (not getting enough nutrients) to overnutrition (taking in too many calories that aren’t nutrient-dense).

Among children under 5 years old across the world:

  • An estimated 148 million children experience stunting (below a healthy height for their age). 
  • An estimated 45 million children experience wasting (below a healthy weight for their height).
  • An estimated 37 million children are overweight (above a healthy weight for their height).

There’s no doubt this is a worldwide issue. But the question becomes: “What can be done about it?”

Earlier this year, five United Nations agencies labeled malnutrition a threat to children’s long-term health and development and called for urgent action on the issue. 

That’s why Abbott is stepping up to tackle malnutrition. We are partnering with Real Madrid Football Club and Real Madrid Foundation to drive awareness of the issue and to provide nutrition education and malnutrition screening through Real Madrid Foundation Social Sports Schools.  

“Malnutrition is not always identified early, so it’s critical to make people aware and give them tools to help identify it through regular screening and monitoring of children,” said Ann Smith, co-lead of the Abbott Center for Malnutrition Solutions. “In partnership with Real Madrid Foundation, we’re teaching kids about healthy living and training communities to identify malnutrition in kids so they can be referred for additional support and resources.”

In 2023, Abbott has delivered more than 35,000 hours of nutrition education in 10 countries through our Future Well Kids curriculum: Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, India, Israel, Mexico, Philippines, Tanzania, the U.K. and the U.S. And we have helped screen more than 1,700 students for childhood malnutrition in six countries: Brazil, Colombia, India, Mexico, Tanzania and the U.S.

Most recently, Abbott, Real Madrid and the Real Madrid Foundation teamed up to launch the “Beat Malnutrition” campaign during Real Madrid’s final match of the 2022-2023 La Liga season. As part of the campaign, Abbott brought the issue of malnutrition to the global stage by:

  • Promoting nutrition education and encouraging more children to be screened for malnutrition.
  • Donating 10,000 Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) z-score tapes to communities across the globe. The MUAC tape is an easy-to-use tool that screens for malnutrition in children.
  • Hosting the first “Run to Beat Malnutrition” 5K, 10K and kids races in Madrid, raising proceeds for programming at global Real Madrid Foundation Sports Schools.

The fight against childhood malnutrition is far from over. But to make something better, you have to identify it first. And we’re heading in the right direction.