Undernutrition continues to affect the lives of millions of children and women worldwide and every country is affected by some form of nutrition problem(1). Globally, 47 million children young age were wasted, 14.3 million are severely wasted and 144 million are stunted and mostly occur in low- and middle-income countries(2).
About half of all stunted children lived in Asia and over one third in Africa and approximately two thirds of all wasted children lived in Asia and almost one third in Africa, with similar proportions for severely wasted children(3). At least one in three children is not getting the nutrition they need to grow well, particularly in the crucial first 1,000 days – from conception to the child's second birthday – and often beyond(4).
Young age children undernutrition continues to be the leading public health problem in developing countries(5). Africa has experienced the smallest relative decrease, with underweight from 23–17%. This means Africa was likely fall meet the MDG, reaching about only half of the targeted reduction(3). Africa has one of the highest levels of child undernutrition, Stunting was highest in Burundi (57.7%) and Malawi (47.1%) in East Africa; Niger (43.9%), in West Africa; Democratic Republic of Congo (42.7%), Chad (39.9%) in Central Africa and Ethiopia (8.70%) in East Africa (6).
In Ethiopia, from the year 2005 to 2016, there is a decrease in stunting from 47–39%, but the prevalence of wasting changed little over the same time period (11–10%)(7). Undernutrition among young children was one of the public health problems in Ethiopia. The prevalence of stunting, wasting, and underweight were 38.3%, 10.1%, and 23.3%, respectively (8). About 19.47% of children were both stunted and underweighted, and only 3.87% of children had all the three conditions(8).
In Addis Ababa, the prevalence of malnutrition and classifies it according its degree which is 55.1%, 57.7% and 49.26% measured with weight for age, weight for height and mid upper arm circumference respectively(9).
Poor nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life can lead to stunted growth, which is irreversible and associated with impaired cognitive ability and reduced school and work performance(10). Under nutrition may be a consequence of energy deficit or micronutrient deficiency. It is considered the most relevant risk factor for illness and death, particularly in developing countries like Ethiopia(11).
Inadequate nutrition during the first two years of life may lead to childhood morbidity and mortality, as well as inadequate brain development(12).
Infants and children undernutrition remains one of the major public health problems in many parts of the world, especially in a developing country, in which young age children are more vulnerable group to undernutrition (13).
The developmental, economic, social, and medical impacts of the global burden of undernutrition are serious and lasting, for individuals and their families, for communities and for countries(2). As recent report indicates Around 45% of deaths among children young age are linked to undernutrition(2). Similarly, In Ethiopia, undernutrition is a leading cause of child illness and death(5).
According to 2018 global nutritional report undernutrition was major bottlenecks for economic development(14). The study on economic impact of disease-related undernutrition at hospital admission determinants of cost deviation shows that the cost of treating a nutritionally-at-risk patient is 20% higher than the average of the respectively(15).
The hospital staying of undernourished young age children is long when compared with well-nourished. But also, incidence of complication and high-cost hospitality that has an impact directly or indirect on economy and other crisis on the family(16).
Undernutrition puts children at greater risk of dying from common infections, increases the frequency and severity of such infections, and contributes to delayed recovery due to potentially decrease immunity(10–11). Additionally, the interaction between undernutrition and infection can create a potentially lethal cycle of worsening illness and deteriorating nutritional status(10).
Inappropriate complementary feeding practices among children aged 6–23 months is major cause of under nutrition(17). Breast feeding, sociodemographic condition, hygiene of food are also most associated factors with undernutrition of young age group children(18).
The impact undernutrition is more severe among children age 6–23 months as this period is critical for child development, and irreversible damages can occur due to nutritional deficiencies(19). For instance, undernutrition lacking brain development that lead to lack of attention (poor attention span), reducing academical performance and lowering the IQ level of the children(20). Generally, undernutrition can reduce physical (growth), mental and social development of young age children(21).
The consequence of the problems can affect the children, the family and the development of the country by lowering growth domestic product, economic level, complicating health service when aggregated and complicated.