Dynamics of the double burden of malnutrition and the changing nutrition reality

Lancet. 2020 Jan 4;395(10217):65-74. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(19)32497-3. Epub 2019 Dec 15.


The double burden of malnutrition (DBM), defined as the simultaneous manifestation of both undernutrition and overweight and obesity, affects most low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). This Series paper describes the dynamics of the DBM in LMICs and how it differs by socioeconomic level. This Series paper shows that the DBM has increased in the poorest LMICs, mainly due to overweight and obesity increases. Indonesia is the largest country with a severe DBM, but many other Asian and sub-Saharan African countries also face this problem. We also discuss that overweight increases are mainly due to very rapid changes in the food system, particularly the availability of cheap ultra-processed food and beverages in LMICs, and major reductions in physical activity at work, transportation, home, and even leisure due to introductions of activity-saving technologies. Understanding that the lowest income LMICs face severe levels of the DBM and that the major direct cause is rapid increases in overweight allows identifying selected crucial drivers and possible options for addressing the DBM at all levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara / epidemiology
  • Food Quality
  • Humans
  • Indonesia / epidemiology
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Malnutrition / etiology
  • Nutritional Status
  • Nutritive Value
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Overweight / etiology
  • Poverty
  • Prevalence
  • Socioeconomic Factors