Nutrition issues in Latin America

60% of under-12s
in poverty

27% of all children

Deaths from preventable diseases

In Latin America, it is estimated that 60% of all children under 12 years old live in poverty. As a result, approximately 27-28% of all children are estimated to be underweight or stunted resulting from not eating enough food, consuming a vitamin- and mineral-poor diet, and/or having a disease.

As growth slows, brain development lags and children have trouble learning. These vulnerable children are more likely to die from preventable diseases.

“Malnutrition is disproportionately affecting women, the urban poor, rural communities, and marginalized groups”

The World Food Programme

Not just undernutrition, but increasingly obesity is a concern: Childhood overweight in Latin America is above the world average, affecting 7.5% of children under 5 in 2020.

Between one-third and one-half of all obese children become obese adults, increasing the risk of ill-health and pressure on healthcare systems.

Nutrition at NPH

Improving the children’s health and keeping them healthy is a priority of NPH. When a child joins one of our programmes, they are evaluated by the NPH medical team and treated for any medical conditions they have, including malnutrition.

Children in care with NPH receive three meals and up to two snacks a day. The average meal consists of rice, beans and some form of protein. Higher cost protein sources, such as meat and poultry, have largely been replaced with beans or eggs. In some NPH countries, the children are now only eating meat once a week.

As part of our family strengthening programmes, meals are also provided to children coming to school at NPH, as well as those attending NPH day care centres. Some families in our family reintegration programmes receive food donations.

A nutritionist gives her assessment of NPH’s work

Read what independent nutritionist Patricia Georgina Flores has to say in an interview about the nutritional status of children in care with NPH El Salvador and the endeavours of NPH to promote their wellbeing.

Striving for self-sufficiency

Our childcare centres strive to be as self-sufficient as possible. Each one grows fruit and vegetables, and some raise cattle, poultry and even fish. In addition, many centres run their own bakeries. The children participate in the food production and learn valuable skills on how to raise and prepare their own food.

NPH shows children where their food comes from

In numbers

Each month, the 9 NPH countries use:

6,350 kilos of rice
6,800 kilos of rice
63,000 eggs

How you can help

By maximizing resources, NPH centres are able to feed each child for less than £2 a day. However, with thousands of children in our centres and assisted through outreach programmes, it costs over £2 million per year to feed everyone. Your gift can help provide life-saving nourishment to vulnerable children, allowing them to grow into healthy and productive adults.

UN Sustainable Development Goal: Zero Hunger

UN SDG 2 zero hunger

At NPH we’re committed to working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) wherever they are relevant to our work. Many of the children that NPH helps have known hunger and its consequences. With support from our donors, we’ll make sure they never experience it again.

A partner for trusts and foundations

Do you work with a charitable trust or foundation interested in investing in nutrition for vulnerable children in Latin America? We are a trusted partner for such organisations and would love to hear from you. Read more about our partnerships or contact us.


State of Food Security and Nutrition 2023

Global Nutrition Report

PAHO: Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2021: Statistics and Trends

The World Food Programme: Latin America and the Caribbean today: A snapshot of the nutrition situation

ECLAC: Malnutrition among children in Latin America and the Caribbean

You can help!