UNICEF – Improving Child Nutrition: The achievable imperative for global progress

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May 7, 2013 by WASHplus

Improving Child Nutrition: The achievable imperative for global progress, 2013. UNICEF.

(Full text, pdf)

Globally, about one in four children under 5 years old are stunted (26 per cent in 2011). An estimated 80 per cent of the world’s 165 million stunted children live in just 14 countries. Stunting and other forms of undernutrition reduce a child’s chance of survival, while also hindering optimal health and growth. Stunting is associated with suboptimal brain development, which is likely to have long-lasting harmful consequences for cognitive ability, school performance and future earnings. This in turn affects the development potential of nations.

In tackling child undernutrition, there has been a shift from efforts to reduce underweight prevalence (inadequate weight for age) to prevention of stunting (inadequate length/height for age). There is better understanding of the crucial importance of nutrition during the critical 1,000-day period covering pregnancy and the first two years of the child’s life, and of the fact that stunting reflects deficiencies during this period. The World Health Assembly has adopted a new target of reducing the number of stunted children under the age of 5 by 40 per cent by 2025.

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