The 2013 Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition

logo_siteIn 2008, The Lancet published a series of papers on maternal and child nutrition. In particular the journal highlighted the significant burden of undernutrition in early life on an individual’s development and survival but also on their future education, labour productivity and earning potential and, as a result, on a country’s GDP.

The series was followed by high-level international action, specifically the 1000 Days Initiative and the UN’s Scaling Up Nutrition movement.

Today The Lancet has released a second series of papers on maternal and child nutrition. The series examines progress that has been made in tackling undernutrition as well as the emerging issue of the double burden of malnutrition in low-income countries: populations exhibiting both obesity as well as micronutrient deficiencies.

Changes, from the last series, in numbers of children stunted, a commonly used measure for malnutrition in children, are largely positive. In 2011, the prevalence of stunting in children under 5 years in developing countries was 26%, compared to 32% in 2005. The number of stunted children has also decreased globally, from 178 million in 2005, to 165 million in 2011.

Obesity however is on the rise. The number of overweight mothers has risen steadily since 1980, and leads to increased maternal morbidity and infant mortality. In children under five, obesity is increasing, particularly in developing countries and is becoming a more significant contributory factor to adult obesity, diabetes, and non-communicable diseases. [Read more…]