The Catalan Ombudsman calls for urgent Government action to guarantee the right of children to adequate food


Press conference Child malnutrition report (c) Catalan Ombudsman

Rafael Ribó submits the report Child malnutrition in Catalonia, in which alleges that 50,000 children have food deprivation and 750 suffer from malnutrition and poverty (according to the ICS diagnostic codes of June 2013).

  • The absence of a structural problem of child malnutrition should not make ignorant – neither institutions nor society – about the existing malnutrition situations affecting part of children population. 
  • The Catalan Ombudsman warns that this situation may worsen during August.

  • The Catalan Ombudsman requests the Catalan Government, the county councils and municipalities to act in a co-ordinated, harmonised and urgent manner to guarantee the right of children to adequate food. 

It is true that, as claimed by institutions and services that cater to children in social vulnerability conditions, that in Catalonia a structural situation of acute or chronic malnutrition for socio-economic reasons is not detected. However, reality shows that the growing scarcity of social and economic situation creates both under-nutrition (insufficient food intake) and not adequate food (non-balanced diet), conditions that can not be ignored.

a) The risk of child poverty rate in Catalonia stands at 28%, approximately 345,000 children under sixteen affected. 

b) 4% of children under sixteen suffer from material hardship affecting their food: specifically, almost 50,000 Catalan children this age can not afford meat of fish at least once every two days, i.e. do not eat proteins on a regular basis.

c) There are 750 children under sixteen with diagnostic codes of nutritional problems related to extreme poverty and low incomes. The average age is four years-old. A quarter of those are less than one year-old and mostly of foreign nationality (56%), according to data from June 2013 of the computerized clinical history of Primary Care services of the Catalan Institute of Health. 

d) Situations associated with severe poverty, which currently affect to a tenth of children (130.000), have multiplied during the last years in Catalonia. The prevalence of Catalan homes (with or without children) who can not afford meat or fish at least once every two days in 2011 is almost six times higher than in 2008 and Catalan households who suffer a severe material deprivation in 2011 are more than three times than in 2008.