Kolkata: Promoting Healthy Growth and preventing Childhood Stunting is
a project coordinated by the WHO Department of Nutrition and funded by the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation.
Its aims are to develop tools and a framework to support countries in setting and
implementing stunting reduction agendas; help shift focus from underweight to stunting
as the indicator for tracking undernutrition; highlight the association between
undernutrition in early life and later risk of overweight/obesity, associated with
non-communicable diseases and contribute to the achievement of the 2012 World
Health Assembly stunting reduction target .
Recognition that nutrition-sensitive interventions also are critical for stunting prevention
has broadened the scope of candidate actions for stunting reduction. Therefore, in addition
to improved complementary feeding, interventions to strengthen food systems, promote
healthy diets, improve maternal health, water supplies, sanitation and hygiene are among
the multi-faceted actions being undertaken to address stunting, a WHO report said.
Analysis of data on global trends and determinants of growth indicators Collaborating
with global and country-level partners to set and implement national stunting reduction
agendas Supporting countries to implement the WHO Child Growth Standards while
promoting best practices for growth assessment and counselling on infant and young
Childhood Stunting: Context, Causes and Consequences is a conceptual framework
that summarizes three levels of factors associated with stunting. It is a direct product of
the Healthy Growth Project.
It builds on the UNICEF conceptual framework on causes of malnutrition. Stunted
growth and development are central to this framework. They share common causes and
the period from conception to age 24 months is highly sensitive for both. Strategies that
promote and protect healthy growth in this period benefit children's physical, mental,
socio-emotional, and intellectual growth and development.
Stunting in childhood has short-term and long-term consequences that affect health
and human capital development. In addition to poor physical growth, stunting affects
childhood risk of infection and mortality, cognitive and motor development, learning
capacity and school performance. Later it affects productivity, wages, and reproductive
health. Stunting followed by excessive weight gain in later childhood leads to increased
risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Among the immediate causes of stunting, complementary feeding is highlighted
together with the importance of breastfeeding.(UNI)