A significant number of children in high-income nations are impoverished and experiencing food insecurity.

The U.N. analyzed 41 nations it identified as “high income” that are part of the European Union and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In this group, 21 percent of children currently live in poverty, while 12.5 percent are unsure from where their next meal will come (food insecure).

These are two key findings in “Building the Future: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries,” a new report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Overall, one in five children live in poverty, yet “there is wide variation – from one in ten in Denmark, Iceland and Norway to one in three in Israel and Romania.”

The report added, “Bulgaria, Mexico, Spain, Turkey and the United States also have child poverty rates substantially above the rich-world average.”

An average of one in eight children experience food insecurity, even though there are “ample food resources available” in these nations.

Significant variation regarding their food security levels was also noted – one in 70 is food insecure in Japan, while one in three experiences food insecurity in Mexico and Turkey.

“National income levels are far from explaining all of these differences: for example, Slovenia is far ahead of much wealthier countries on many indicators,” UNICEF stated.

“This demonstrates that government policies and priorities matter if children are to make sustained progress. Countries that rank high … on reducing inequality also tend to score well on ending poverty, ensuring healthy lives, quality education and inclusive economies.”

The U.S. ranked 33 in addressing Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 1 (“ending poverty in all its forms”) and 36 in SDG number 2 (“end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition”).

By comparison, Canada ranked 32 and 37, respectively, while the U.K. ranked 16 and 34, respectively.

Sarah Cook, director of UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti, called the report a “wake-up call” in a June 15 press release.

The full report is available here.

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