Please click here to access the Executive Summary of the Lancet series on Maternal and Child Nutrition, published on 6 June, 2013
According to the 2013 UNICEF report: Improving Child Nutrition: The achievable imperative for global progress, please click here to access:
• By 2011, the number of stunted children in India was 6,17,23,000 (i.e. 6.17 crore approximately) and its share in the world total of stunted children was 37.9 percent.
• In South Asia, an estimated 28 per cent of infants are born with low birthweight. In South Asia, 39 percent of children are stunted. According to the NFHS-3 done in 2005-06, 48 percent of Indian children under the age 5 are stunted.
• In Maharashtra, the wealthiest state in India, 39 per cent of children under age 2 were stunted in 2005–2006. But by 2012, according to a statewide nutrition survey, the prevalence of stunting had dropped to 23 percent.
• In 2012, the Government of Maharashtra commissioned the first-ever statewide nutrition survey to assess progress and identify areas for future action. Results of this Comprehensive Nutrition Survey in Maharashtra indicated that prevalence of stunting in children under 2 years of age was 23 per cent in 2012 – a decrease of 16 percentage points over a seven-year period.
• From 2005–2006 to 2012, the percentage of children 6 to 23 months old who were fed a required minimum number of times per day increased from 34 to 77 and the proportion of mothers who benefited from at least three antenatal visits during pregnancy increased from 75 to 90 per cent.
• The provisional results of the Maharashtra survey showed that in spite of more frequent meals, only 7 per cent of children 6–23 months old received a minimal acceptable diet in 2012.
• The proportion of stunted children under 5 in the poorest households compared with the proportion in the richest households ranges from nearly twice as high in sub-Saharan Africa (48 percent versus 25 per cent) to more than twice as high in South Asia (59 percent versus 25 per cent).
• Recent longitudinal studies among cohorts of children from Brazil, Guatemala, India, the Philippines and South Africa confirmed the association between stunting and a reduction in schooling, and also found that stunting was a predictor of grade failure. Reduced school attendance and educational outcomes result in diminished income-earning capacity in adulthood. A 2007 study estimated an average 22 per cent loss of yearly income in adulthood.
• Poor nutrition in the first 1,000 days of children’s lives can have irreversible consequences. More and more countries are scaling up their nutrition programmes to reach children during the critical period from pregnancy to the age of 2. From a life-cycle perspective, the most crucial time to meet a child’s nutritional requirements is in the 1,000 days including the period of pregnancy and ending with the child’s second birthday.
• 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. A stunted child enters adulthood with a greater propensity for developing obesity and chronic diseases.
• 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.
• Undernourished girls have a greater likelihood of becoming undernourished mothers who in turn have a greater chance of giving birth to low birthweight babies, perpetuating an intergenerational cycle.
• More than 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America have joined Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN). The present report highlights successes in scaling up nutrition and improving policies in 11 countries: Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Nepal, Peru, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, the United Republic of Tanzania and Viet Nam.
• In Peru, stunting fell by a third between 2006 and 2011 following an initiative that lobbied political candidates to sign a commitment to reduce stunting in children under five by five per cent over the span of five years and to lessen inequities between urban and rural areas.
• Ethiopia cut stunting from 57 per cent to 44 per cent between 2000 and 2011 by implementing a national nutrition programme, providing a safety net in the poorest areas and boosting nutrition assistance through communities.