Climate change is leaving children with less to eat
The researchers the impact of climate was so great it outweighed other developments efforts
The results were particularly stark in West Africa
Children’s diets are being harmed by climate change, according to a major new study across 19 countries. Researchers looked at the diets of more than 107,000 children across Africa, Asia and Latin America and found a link between higher long-term temperatures and poor diets.
The researchers found that the impact of climate was so great that it outweighed efforts to alleviate poverty and improve access to education, water and toilets, undermining some international development schemes.
The study from researchers at the University of Vermont looked at diet diversity, a metric of nutrition which calculates the number of food groups eaten over a specific time period.
It found that five of the six regions it looked at had significant reductions in diet diversity associated with higher temperatures.
The results, published in Environmental Research Letters, help to explain the fact that even as child malnutrition has decreased around the world in recent decades, undernourishment has increased since 2015, amid extreme weather conditions.
Higher temperatures as a result of climate change can affect yields of staple crops, including food for animals, which in turn impacts their productivity and can increase animals’ demand for water, further straining resources.
The impacts mean food prices can also rise, adding further pressure in particular poor regions.
The results raise questions about how to tackle child malnutrition when policies have tended to focus on lifting families out of poverty and providing access to basic facilities.
In some areas the results were particularly stark.
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