Beckham: Child stunting a 'silent emergency'
October 15, 2012 -- Updated 1445 GMT (2245 HKT)
David Beckham touches the hand of two-day-old Mariatsu during a visit to the newborn's home in Sierra Leone.
- Sportsman David Beckham appeals for action over child stunting
- 170 million children are stunted due to the lack of proper nutrition early on
- Stunting delays a child's development and affects their education
- Beckham: "It's impossible to look into the eyes of a hungry child and not be moved"
Editor's note: David Beckham is one of the world's most recognizable sportsmen, having played professional football for England, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Los Angeles Galaxy. He is also a UNICEF ambassador and campaigns tirelessly for a range of charities and good causes.
Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Imagine opening your daily newspaper and reading a story about a young child whose body and brain has been damaged forever because he or she didn't get the right nutrition to develop properly.
I'm sure you would be outraged. But this is the reality for some 170 million stunted children around the world, according to UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Read more: Indian state's battle to build up its babies
This is a silent crisis that for far too long has received far too little attention. That's why I'm getting behind this issue to help raise awareness and call for action to address the lack of nutrition and the silent emergency of stunting in children -- and why you should too.
Seeing the world in black and white
Stunting is what happens when a child doesn't get the right nutrients in their first 1,000 days of life. The damage to a child's brain and body is permanent. They will never learn as much as they could if they had received the right food from the start -- it can mean up to three years loss of schooling.
Opinion: You have the power to end hunger
Taking action on stunting is not only the right thing to do -- it is also the smart thing to do. In some countries, more than half of all children are stunted, which can stop them earning as much later in life and have a huge impact on these countries' economies.
As I learned in Sierra Leone, it is impossible to look into the eyes of a hungry child and not be moved. As a father of four, I cannot sit on the sidelines when millions of children are suffering needlessly, especially when we know simple and inexpensive solutions can stop stunting and help save and change children's lives.
Read more: Childhood malnutrition has long lasting effects
These solutions include making sure that pregnant mothers get proper nutrition, that babies are breastfed during their first six months and that children are receiving the right nutrition, including vitamin A supplements.
As a father of four, I cannot sit on the sidelines when millions of children are suffering
David Beckham, UNICEF Ambassador
The good news is that in the last year alone, more and more countries are taking action to reduce stunting. We need to now encourage other governments to do the same. I have seen firsthand how UNICEF and its partners are delivering life-saving support for children and mothers but much more needs to be done.
In August, on the eve of the London Olympics, I met with British Prime Minister David Cameron to urge him to focus on child malnutrition and stunting.
I delivered a letter signed by over 60 UNICEF Ambassadors and high-profile supporters and 17,000 public supporters asking the prime minister and world leaders to take action on this crisis. As all eyes were on the sports stars trying to achieve their dreams, it was the right moment to ask for help for millions of children around the world, who want no more than to be able to fulfill their dreams too.
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
Today's five most popular stories