Making Hidden Hunger Be Seen – As told by “Uncle” Norman.
“Magie vol, ogies toe” – an old Afrikaans adage roughly translating to “tummy full, eyes shut”. A silent prayer recited by nursing mothers, as their babies fall asleep while feeding, owing to their tummies being sufficiently filled. But sometimes, filling a child’s tummy may not be enough for their optimal growth and development, including that it may be more than just their eyes shutting – but their futures too.
While on the topic of silent prayers and the filled tummies, it may be most opportune to delve into the arena of hidden hunger: one of the three known forms of malnutrition – undernutrition, hidden hunger and overweight. It is worth noting that any one of the three recognised forms of malnutrition, which are universally referred to as the triple burden of malnutrition, can threaten the survival, growth, well-being and development of children, economies, and societies.
According to the World Health Organisation, hidden hunger is a lack of vitamins and minerals and occurs when the quality of food children eat does not meet their nutrient requirements. This means that the food these children eat is deficient in micronutrients, such as the vitamins and minerals that they need for their growth and development. What is known about the detrimental and often permanent effects of hidden hunger, is that even though its onset may not be initially visible or obvious, it can be foreseen, dealt with, and overcome.
More often than not, there is a great likelihood that the meals received by children from socioeconomically vulnerable environments – irrespective of frequency, servings or portions sizes – may fall short of the daily recommended essential micronutrients needed for optimal growth, health and development. These environments where manifestations of hidden hunger can be foreseen, include but are not limited to the scores of diverse creches/day care/early childhood development centres (registered and/or unregistered), orphanages, child reared homes or other formal and informal settings, settlements or establishments.
It is within these environments and many others, that the relentless manifestations of hidden hunger can be dealt with and with a bit of love, care and respect can over time be overcome.