The global economic impact of malnutrition could be a staggering $125 billion by 2030, with India accounting for nearly $46 billion, according to the first international study of its kind in four countries.
Chronically malnourished children are on average nearly 20 % less literate than those who have a nutritious diet and it can adversely impact on the economic growth of a country, according to findings of a British charity, 'Save the Children'.
The study sheds new light on how missing out on nutritious food can impact on a child's cognitive development and its ar-reaching effects on economic growth.
The study conducted in four countries including India, Ehiopia, Peru and Vietnam suggests that the global economic impact of malnutrition could be up to $ 125 billion by 2030, with India accounting for nearly $ 46 billion.
'Save the Children' applies estimated losses of income, on a country by country basis, to predicted per capita incomes.
"The results of the analysis suggest that by the time today's stunted children reach working age, they will cost the global economy $ 125 billion overall," the report observed.
Malnourished children could earn as much as 20% less in adulthood and the economic cost of micronutrient malnutrition is estimated between 0.8 % and 2.5 % of GDP in India – equivalent to $ 15-46 billion.
The research found that at the age of eight, children who are stunted due to chronic malnutrition are 19 % more likely to make a mistake reading a simple sentence.
"These findings confirm our very worst fears – that poor nutrition is capable of seriously damaging a child's life chances before he or she even sets foot in a classroom," it said.
"We have made huge progress in tackling child deaths, but having a quarter of the world's children at risk of under-performing at school will have grave consequences for the fight to end global poverty," said 'Save the Children' chief executive Justin Forsyth.
"World leaders must take the opportunity to change this in London on June 8 th and commit to tackle the scourge of malnutrition for good," Forsyth said.
"We want to see funding for countries suffering the highest burden so that millions of children's lives can be transformed," he added.
British Prime Minister David Cameron is to host a nutrition summit in London on June 8 in the lead up to this year's G8 summit in Northern Ireland.
Britain's leading charities and faith groups, including Save the Children, have launched the "Enough Food for Everyone" campaign – the world's biggest push to end world hunger.