Nutrition Epidemiology

Editor(s): Z. Bhutta Annales Nestlé Vol.70 / 3,  2013


Despite a fair amount of discussions around the subject, under-nutrition remains a neglected area globally. Annales presents the latest updates on the global trends in nutrition epidemiology of maternal and child undernutrition, as well as the impact of complementary feeding in stunting during the first thousand days in regards to its short term and long term outcomes.  Also discussed in this issue is the growing evidence of the close link between under-nutrition and the risks associated with obesity and infectious diseases.

  • Global Burden of Maternal and Child Undernutrition and Micronutrient Deficiencies

    Author(s): T. Ahmed, M. Hossain, K. Sanin

    Maternal and child undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies affect approximately half of the world’s population. These conditions include intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), low birth weight, protein-energy malnutrition, chronic energy deficit of women, and micronutrient deficiencies. Although the rates of stunting or chronic protein-energy malnutrition are increasing in Africa, the absolute numbers of stunted children are much higher in Asia. The four common micronutrient deficiencies include those of iron, iodine, vitamin A, and zinc. All these conditions are responsible directly or indirectly for more than 50% of all under-5 deaths globally. According to more recent estimates, IUGR, stunting and severe wasting are responsible for one third of under-5 mortality. About 12% of deaths among under-5 children are attributed to the deficiency of the four common micronutrients. Despite tremendous progress in different disciplines and unprecedented improvement with many health indicators, persistently high undernutrition rates are a shame to the society. Human development is not possible without taking care to control undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. Poverty, food insecurity, ignorance, lack of appropriate infant and young child feeding practices, heavy burden of infectious illnesses, and poor hygiene and sanitation are factors responsible for the high levels of maternal and child undernutrition in developing countries. These factors can be controlled or removed by scaling up direct nutrition interventions and eliminating the root conditions including female illiteracy, lack of livelihoods, lack of women’s empowerment, and poor hygiene and sanitation.

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