FOODIE destination Peru combats malnutrition in students/children.

PERU a shining star in Latin America's culinary firmament, is battling alarming rates of malnutrition in children and pregnant women.

More  than two in every five children under the age of three - 43.6 percent of the total - suffer from anemia in the Andean country due to a poor diet, according to a family health survey done by Peru's  statistics agency.

Nearly 30 percent of pregnant women suffer from anemia for the same reason - an iron deficiency blamed on low consumption of meat, poultry or fish, the study revealed.

Both rates have remained unchanged since 2011 despite Peru's  high economic growth over the last decade.

''Combating anemia is a priority for the government and we want it to be a priority for Peru,'' said President Martin Vizcarra at the start of the nationwide campaign.

''We  need to lower it from 43 percent to the goal that we have set ourselves of 19 percent within three years,'' he said.

The iron is that Peru - which draws 4.5 million tourists a year - is increasingly known not only for its archeological wonders like Machu Picchu, but also as a foodie paradise.

Two high-end  eateries  in the capital Lima   -EI Central  and EI Maido   -are in the top 10 of this year's  influential   ''World's  50  Best Restaurants'' list.

Now one of the powerhouses  of Latin America's economy, Peru 4.9 percent growth is more than double the region's 2.4 percent average.

But that growth is leaving an increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Thousands of poor Peruvian families  go-hungry despite the fact  that 60 percent of their income goes to buy food, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO]. [Agencies]


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