At least 25 per cent of children below the age of five years in Kenya suffer from stunted growth due to malnutrition.
According to the Ministry of Health, another 11 per cent are underweight because they lack enough food and proper nutrition.
According to Dr Jackson Kioko, who head of the Department of Preventive and Promotive Health Services in the ministry, another 14 per cent of children in the same age group in the country are thinner than they are supposed to be.
Most of those suffering malnutrition and going without food are from counties in the northeastern region, he said.
“Micronutrients deficiency continue to pose a great challenge to children below five years but the government has put preventive measures,” Dr Kioko said on Thursday during the launch of National Nutrition Week.
He said providing “therapeutic foods” to malnourished children and women was among the ways being used to stem malnourishment.
Dr Kioko called upon stakeholders to help in battling malnutrition, adding “nutrition is not just a health issue but a social issue which requires collaboration.“
He also asked institutions like hospitals and prisons to ensure they also provide well-balanced foods to avoid poor health among patients and prisoners.
Dr Kioko said the country was also battling obesity among adults and children, with 25 per cent of women of reproductive age being overweight or obese.
This, he said, had led to an increase in non-communicable diseases like hypertension, cancer and cardiovascular disease, among others.
He warned that the high intake of junk food, especially in urban areas, coupled with lack of exercise, was leading to an increase in lifestyle diseases.
“The projection that we have is that in 10 years, non-communicable diseases will overtake communicable diseases,” he said on Thursday at the Kasarani Stadium.
Speaking at the same event, Ms Gladys Mugambi, who heads the nutrition and dietetics unit, said 61 per cent of mothers in the country were now breastfeeding their newborn babies exclusively for the first six months.
Senate Health Committee chairman Mohamed Kuti said the House would formulate a law to ensure that manufacturers correctly label food packages, detailing their nutritional value.