The global food system is broken. In total around 3.5 billion people — half the people on the planet today — are malnourished.

  • Each day 795 million people go hungry.
  • Close to 2 billion people survive on diets that lack the vital vitamins and nutrients needed to grow properly, live healthy lives, and raise a healthy family.
  • 1.4 billion people worldwide struggle with overweight and obesity. That’s more than the number of people who are hungry worldwide. Changing lifestyles and cheap calories mean many people find it hard to balance their diets and lifestyles.

Each year, malnutrition undermines billions of people’s health. It kills 3.1 million children under 5 and leaves 161 million stunted.

Rapid population growth and climate change pose new challenges to an already overburdened food system. We believe the food system can be fixed by a collective global effort.

Data sources:

  • The Lancet’s series of maternal and child nutrition
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)

Download GAIN’s Definition of Safe and Nutritious Foods here


The growth in numbers of overweight and obese individuals in developing countries in recent years presents a new burden for individuals, health systems and economies. Almost 75 percent of today’s 43 million overweight or obese children under 5 live in developing countries, often the same countries struggling with hunger, creating an unforeseen ‘double burden’ of malnutrition.

Infants who experience undernutrition and poor growth during the first 1,000 days from conception through to age 2 are also at an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese later in life, and are more likely to develop a number of related chronic diseases as adults.

GAIN is exploring innovative behaviour change programs targeting mothers and children; working with policy makers in key countries to amend the regulatory environment governing advertising and foods permitted for sale in schools; and working with the private sector to encourage production and sale of healthier foods to low-income consumers.


Over half of the world population lives in cities, a trend that will accelerate more quickly in the coming decades. In many cities, over half the population lives in informal settlements and slums, and rates of malnutrition are extremely high. Urban food systems in many countries are not developing rapidly enough to cope with the challenges of a fast growing population, a factor in increasing obesity levels as traditional diets are swapped for snacks and high-energy fast foods.

GAIN focuses on two key populations that are known to have high rates of malnutrition — excluded populations and the urban malnourished. In India, we support members of the Dalit community and other minority groups, including increasing awareness of good nutrition for mothers, pregnant women and children. Programs are also underway with pastoralists in northern Kenya and slum dwellers in Kenya and Ethiopia.