South America Nutrition Profile

Our interactive Country Nutrition Profiles use the latest data to provide you with a concise overview of the burden of malnutrition at the country, regional, subregional and global level, as well as intervention coverage, determinants, nutrition financing and demography.

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Subregional overview

Malnutrition burden

In the South America subregion, there has been some progress towards achieving global nutrition targets. The global targets for under-five stunting and under-five wasting each have five countries on course to meet them, while under-five overweight has three countries on course. However, not a single country in the subregion is on course to meet the targets for infant exclusive breastfeeding, anaemia in women of reproductive age, low birth weight, male diabetes, female diabetes, male obesity, and female obesity. Eight countries in the subregion have insufficient data to comprehensively assess their progress towards these global targets.

Although it performs relatively well against other subregions, South America still experiences a malnutrition burden among its under-five population. The average prevalence of overweight in under-fives is 7.8% - the highest compared to other subregions in Latin America and the Caribbean. The prevalence of stunting in under-fives is 7.1%, this is significantly less than the global average of 21.9%. The South America subregion's prevalence of wasting in under-fives of 1.3% is also less than the global average of 7.3%.

Some 64.2% of infants under 23 months in the South America subregion are exclusively breastfed, while the subregion's average low birth weight prevalence of 8.6% is less than the global average of 14.6%.

The South America subregion's adult population also face a malnutrition burden. An average of 23.8% of women of reproductive age have anaemia, and 8.9% of adult women have diabetes, compared to 8.3% of men. Meanwhile, 26.3% of women and 19.4% of men have obesity.

Sources: UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Group: Joint child malnutrition estimates, UNICEF/WHO Low birthweight estimates, NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, WHO Global Health Observatory.

Notes: Data on the adult indicators are based on modelled estimates.

Progress against global nutrition targets 2018

Under-five stunting

Under-five stunting

5 On course

1 Off course

6 No data

Under-five wasting

Under-five wasting

5 On course

1 Off course

6 No data

Under-five overweight

Under-five overweight

3 On course

3 Off course

6 No data

Low birthweight

Low birthweight

0 On course

12 Off course

0 No data

Exclusive breastfeeding

Exclusive breastfeeding

0 On course

4 Off course

8 No data

Adult female obesity

Adult female obesity

0 On course

12 Off course

0 No data

Adult male obesity

Adult male obesity

0 On course

12 Off course

0 No data

Adult female diabetes

Adult female diabetes

0 On course

12 Off course

0 No data

Adult male diabetes

Adult male diabetes

0 On course

12 Off course

0 No data

WRA anaemia

WRA anaemia

0 On course

12 Off course

0 No data

Sources: UNICEF global databases Infant and Young Child Feeding, UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Group: Joint child malnutrition estimates, NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, WHO Global Health Observatory and Global Burden of Disease, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Notes: WRA = Women of a reproductive age; NA = not applicable. The methodologies for tracking differ between targets. Data on the adult indicators are based on modelled estimates.

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Child (under-five) nutrition status

Coexistence of wasting, stunting and overweight

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Sources: UNICEF, Division of Data Research and Policy (2019). UNICEF Global Databases: Overlapping Stunting, Wasting and Overweight, January 2019, New York.

Notes: Percentage of children under-five years of age who experience different and overlapping forms of malnutrition.

Low birth weight

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Source: UNICEF/WHO Low birthweight estimates, 2019 edition.

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Child (under-five) nutrition status over time

Wasting by gender

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Stunting by gender

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Overweight by gender

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Wasting by location

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Stunting by location

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Overweight by location

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Wasting by income

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Stunting by income

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Overweight by income

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Wasting by mother's education

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Stunting by mother's education

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Overweight by mother's education

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Wasting by age

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Stunting by age

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Overweight by age

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Sources: UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Group: Joint child malnutrition estimates.

Notes: Regional trends (grey line in charts) refer to estimates from UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Group: Joint child malnutrition estimates. Disaggregated data (coloured lines/bars in charts) is based on population weighted means. Estimates are presented only where available data represents at least 50% of the regional population. Based on population weighted means of between 6 and 8 countries.

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Infant and young child feeding over time

Exclusive breastfeeding by gender

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Continued breastfeeding at 1 year by gender

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Minimum acceptable diet by gender

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Intro. to solid, semi-solid, soft foods by gender

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Exclusive breastfeeding by location

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Continued breastfeeding at 1 year by location

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Minimum acceptable diet by location

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Intro. to solid, semi-solid, soft foods by location

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Exclusive breastfeeding by income

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Continued breastfeeding at 1 year by income

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Minimum acceptable diet by income

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Intro. to solid, semi-solid, soft foods by income

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Exclusive breastfeeding by mother's education

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Continued breastfeeding at 1 year by mother's education

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Minimum acceptable diet by mother's education

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Intro. to solid, semi-solid, soft foods by mother's education

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Exclusive breastfeeding by age

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Continued breastfeeding at 1 year by age

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Minimum acceptable diet by age

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Intro. to solid, semi-solid, soft foods by age

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Sources: UNICEF, Division of Data Research and Policy (2019). Global UNICEF Global Databases: Infant and Young Child Feeding, New York, May 2019.

Notes: Disaggregated data (coloured lines/bars in charts) is based on population weighted means. Estimates are presented only where available data represents at least 50% of the regional population. Based on population weighted means of between 4 and 5 countries.

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Infant and young child feeding

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Sources: UNICEF, Division of Data Research and Policy (2019). Global UNICEF Global Databases: Infant and Young Child Feeding: Exclusive breastfeeding, Predominant breastfeeding, New York, May 2019.

Notes: Based on population weighted means of between 4 and 5 countries.

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Child and adolescent (aged 5-19) nutrition status

Underweight by gender

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Sources: NCD Risk Factor Collaboration.

Notes: Based on population weighted means of 12 countries.

Overweight by gender

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Notes: Based on population weighted means of 12 countries.

Obesity by gender

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Notes: Based on population weighted means of 12 countries.

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Adult nutrition status

Diabetes by gender

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Sources: NCD Risk Factor Collaboration.

Notes: Based on population weighted means of 12 countries.

Overweight by gender

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Notes: Based on population weighted means of 12 countries.

Obesity by gender

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Notes: Based on population weighted means of 12 countries.

Raised blood pressure by gender

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Sources: NCD Risk Factor Collaboration.

Notes: Based on population weighted means of 12 countries.

Anaemia in WRA

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Source: WHO Global Health Observatory.

Notes: WRA = women of reproductive age. Based on population weighted means of 12 countries.

Salt intake (grams per day)

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Source: Global Burden of Disease, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Notes: Based on population weighted means of 12 countries.

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Dietary needs

Consumption of food groups and components, 2016

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Sources: TMREL = theoretical minimum risk of exposure level. Global Burden of Disease, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Notes: Men and women aged 25 and older. Based on population weighted means of 12 countries.

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Intervention coverage

Coverage/practice indicator Total (%) Boy (%) Girl (%) Year
Children 0-59 months with diarrhoea who received zinc treatment No data No data No data No data
Children 6-59 months who received vitamin A supplements in last 6 months No data No data No data No data
Children 6-59 months given iron supplements in past 7 days No data No data No data No data
Women with a live birth in the five years preceding the survey who received iron tablets or syrup during antenatal care No data NA NA No data
Household consumption of any iodised salt No data NA NA No data

Sources: Huestis A. and Kothari M., based on 2016 Global Nutrition Report and UNICEF global databases, 2019.

Notes: NA = not applicable. Data is compiled using STATcompiler and taken from country Demographic and Health Surveys for 2005-2018.

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Determinants

Undernourishment

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Source: FAOSTAT 2018.

Food supply

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Source: FAOSTAT 2018.

Gender-related determinants

Early childbearing births by age 18 (%)1 NA NA
Gender Inequality Index (score*)2 NA NA
Gender Inequality Index (country rank)2 NA NA

Sources: 1 UNICEF 2018; 2 UNDP 2018.

Notes: *0 = low inequality, 1 = high inequality.

Female secondary education enrolment (net, % population)

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Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics 2018.

Notes: Based on population weighted means of between 9 and 12 countries.

Drinking water coverage (% population)

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Source: WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme 2019.

Notes: Based on population weighted means of between 11 and 12 countries.

Sanitation coverage (% population)

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Source: WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme 2019.

Notes: Based on population weighted means of between 7 and 12 countries.

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Resources, policies and targets

Development assistance

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Sources: Development Initiatives based on OECD Development Assistance Commitee (DAC) Creditor Reporting System (CRS).

Notes: ODA = official development assistance. Amounts based on gross ODA disbursements, constant 2017 prices. Figure includes ODA grants and loans, but excludes other official flows and private grants.

National policies

Mandatory legislation for salt iodisation 10/12
Sugar-sweetened beverage tax 3/12
Food-based dietary guidelines 10/12
Policy to reduce salt consumption 7/12
Operational policy, strategy or action plan to reduce unhealthy diet related to NCDs 10/12
Operational, multisectoral national NCD policy, strategy or action plan 7/12
Operational policy, strategy or action plan for diabetes 10/12
Policy to reduce the impact on children of marketing of foods and beverages high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or salt 6/12
Policy to limit saturated fatty acids and virtually eliminate industrially produced trans-fats 5/12

Sources: Global Fortification Data Exchange 2018; Sugar-sweetened data prepared using data from the NOURISHING database, academic references and market reports; FAO 2018; WHO Global database on the Implementation of Nutrition Action (GINA), 2nd Global Nutrition Policy Review, WHO Global Health Observatory.

Notes: Value refers to the number of countries with policy. NA = not applicable; NCD = non-communicable disease.

Targets included in national (nutrition or other) plan

Stunting
10/12
Anaemia
4/12
Low birth weight
9/12
Child overweight
11/12
Exclusive breastfeeding
9/12
Wasting
7/12
Salt intake
9/12
Overweight adults and adolescents
11/12
Multisectoral comprehensive nutrition plan
8/12

Sources: WHO Global database on the Implementation of Nutrition Action (GINA), 2nd Global Nutrition Policy Review.

Notes: Value refers to the number of countries with target.

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Economics and demography

Poverty rates (%) and GDP (PPP$)

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Sources: World Bank 2019, IMF World Economic Outlook Database 2019.

Notes: PPP = purchasing power parity. Based on population weighted means of between 10 and 12 countries.

Under-five mortality (per 1,000 live births)

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Source: UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation 2018.

Notes: Based on population weighted means of 12 countries.

Government revenues ($m)

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Sources: IMF Article IV staff reports (country specific) and IMF World Economic Outlook Database (April 2019).

Income inequality

Gini index score1 Gini index rank2 Year
NA NA NA

Sources: World Bank 2019.

Notes: 1 0 = perfect equality, 100 = perfect inequality.2 Countries are ranked from most equal (1) to most unequal (120).

Population

Population (thousands) 120,481 2018
Under-five population (thousands) 32,403 2019
Rural (%) 16 2018
>65 years (thousands) 39,343 2019

Sources: World Bank 2019, UN Population Division Department of Economic and Social Affairs 2019.

Notes: Based on population weighted means of 12 countries.

Population density of health workers per 1,000 people

Physicians 1.94 2016
Nurses and midwives 4.7 2016
Community health workers No data No data

Sources: WHO's Global Health Workforce Statistics, OECD, supplemented by country data.

Notes: Based on population weighted means of 12 countries.