How Does Child Nutrition Feed into Other Areas of Wellness?

Nutrition is vital to health and wellbeing, which is why a focus on nutrition is so essential for global development. However, for Ellen Piwoz, the nutrition lead for the Nutrition team in the Family Health division of the Global Health Programme for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the problem is that you often perceive global wellness issues as entrenched, unavoidable, or just too complex to change – and so no one take action.

However, according to Piwoz, who is also a member of the Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (MNCH) and HIV strategic programme teams for the foundation, ‘This is why I am inspired by the global progress in addressing malnutrition in just the past two years. We all realised that a new approach was needed — and that even one of the world’s largest challenges could be less daunting when taken on collectively. In a short period of time, we’ve succeeded in creating a new nutrition paradigm. Now it is time to translate this new approach into measurable successes in reducing malnutrition and its lifelong consequences.’

Piwoz explains that the critical window of opportunity for nutrition is during the 1,000 days of a mother’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday ‘Poor nutrition during this time can irreversibly stunt growth and development, whereas good nutrition gives children a healthy start at life,’ she says. ‘This isn’t just about feeding children today, it is about nourishing a stronger future for years to come. The Lancet medical journal recently published a Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition, showing that improving nutrition not only saves lives, but it also makes lives better.’

According to The Lancet, giving proper nutrition to young children means that these kids:

1. Achieve more in school

2. Earn more as adults

3. Are more able to contribute to their families and communities, which, in turn, breaks an intergenerational cycle of poverty.

‘Following on the release of The Lancet Series, heads of state from around the globe, including many in the developing world, the G8 and G20; businesses; UN leaders; and others, including one of our co-chairs, Bill Gates, committed to build on this new evidence with an investment in nutrition,’ Piwoz notes. ‘At the Nutrition for Growth event, hosted in London by the governments of the UK, Brazil and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, supporters came together to commit over $4 billion to nutrition efforts that help individuals, communities and nations grow and develop to their full potential.’ She adds, ‘What we are seeing is a global movement calling for change and making an impact.’

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