Improving Global Child Nutrition Requires Focus On More Than Stunting

Devex: Opinion: Ending undernutrition requires a different focus on stunting
Jef L. Leroy, senior research fellow in the poverty, health, and nutrition division of the International Food Policy Research Institute, and Edward Frongillo, director of the Global Health Initiatives at the University of South Carolina

“…[A recent global spotlight on stunting] has helped nutrition advocates to communicate the consequences of undernutrition to policymakers and donors and persuade them to support the fight against these challenges. … In many cases, however, stunting is not the problem we need to solve — it’s something that tells us there is a problem that needs solving. … Simply put, we should think of stunting as a smoke alarm in a house: It is, more than anything, a signal of a much larger problem. To maintain the current momentum on improving global nutrition, the attention of nutrition researchers, donors, and practitioners should not focus on turning off the alarm. We need to extinguish the fire. We need to improve the deficient environments that children grow up in and prevent the negative consequences these environments have on children’s health and well-being. A sharp focus of nutrition investments, policies, and programs on outcomes that truly matter will help accelerate progress toward the well-being of billions in disadvantaged communities” (4/23).