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5 years on: The Lancet finds much to do for global maternal and childhood nutrition

Last updated on 06-Jun-2013 at 13:52 GMT

The Lancet investigates global malnutrition finds much to do

Prestigious UK journal The Lancet has published a series of articles and studies assessing the problem of malnutrition among women and children, especially in the developing world. Five years it published another series of material on malnutrition, the journal found childhood stunting and micronutrient deficiencies remain widespread, with rising obesity rates a new threat.

It said these kinds of malnutrition were not only compromising quality of life but holding back development in many of the poorer regions of the world.

 “The evidence in this Series furthers the evidence base that good nutrition is a fundamental driver of a wide range of developmental goals,” The Lancet said.

The series looked at areas such as:

  • The prevalence and consequences of nutritional conditions during the life course from adolescence (for girls) through pregnancy to childhood and implications for adult health.
  • Evidence for nutrition-specific interventions, health outcomes and increasing population coverage.
  • Nutrition-sensitive interventions and approaches and their potential  to improve nutrition.
  • Creating environments that can support nutrition programmes and and how they can be favourably influenced.
  • A review of actions being taken and scan of potential actions going forward.

Political commitment

In comparing its reports of five years ago to today The Lancet editors said: “The publication of The Lancet Maternal and Child Undernutrition Series 5 years ago stimulated a tremendous increase in political commitment to  reduction of undernutrition at global and national  levels.”

“However, this progress has not yet translated into substantially improved outcomes globally. Improvements in nutrition still represent a massive unfinished agenda.”

It called for greater multi-stakeholder commitments to drive progress.

“Innovative delivery strategies — especially community-based delivery platforms—are promising for scaling up coverage of nutrition interventions and have the potential to reach poor and difficult to access populations through communication and outreach strategies.”

“These could also lead to potential integration of nutrition with  maternal, newborn, and child health interventions, helping to achieve reductions in inequities.”

A summary of The Lancet material can be found here .

The Lancet work follows a call this week from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to make the fight against malnutrition it said affects 3.5bn people including 1.4bn overweight or obese people.

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