At least one in every three children under five years is either undernourished or overweight resulted from poor diet globally, said Unicef on Tuesday.
An alarmingly high number of children are suffering from the consequences of poor diets and a food system that is failing them, the United Nations body came up with the outcome in a report titled "The State of the World's Children 2019: Children, Food and Nutrition."
The report finds almost two in three children between six months and two years are not fed food that supports their rapidly growing bodies and brains. This puts them at risk of poor brain development, weak learning, low immunity, increased infections and, in many cases, death.
"Despite all the technological, cultural and social advances of the last few decades, we have lost sight of this most basic fact that if children eat poorly, they will live poorly," said Henrietta Fore, the Unicef executive director.
"Millions of children subsist on an unhealthy diet because they simply do not have a better choice. It is not just about getting children enough to eat, it is above all about getting them the right food to eat. That is our common challenge today," added the Unicef official.
The report warns that poor eating and feeding practices start from the earliest days of a child's life. Though breastfeeding can save lives, for example, only 42 percent of children under six months are exclusively breastfed.
An increasing number of children are fed infant formula while the sales of milk-based formula grew by 72 percent between 2008 and 2013 in upper middle-income countries such as Brazil, China and Turkey.
The increase largely occurred due to inappropriate marketing and weak policies and programmes to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
As children begin transitioning to soft or solid foods around the six-month mark, too many are introduced to the wrong kind of diet, according to the report.
Moreover, close to 45 percent of children between six months and two years are not fed any fruits or vegetables. Nearly 60 percent do not eat any egg, dairy, fish or meat, shows the report.
The report also reveals 42 percent of school-going adolescents in low and middle-income countries consume carbonated sugary soft drinks at least once a day. Besides, 46 percent eat fast food at least once a week.
As a result, overweight and obesity levels in childhood and adolescence are increasing worldwide.
The report also notes that climate-related disasters cause severe food crises. Drought, for example, is responsible for 80 percent of damage and losses in agriculture, dramatically altering what food is available to children and families, as well as the quality and price of that food.