News / Health

Early Nutrition Key to Reducing Poverty

Report finds the first 1000 days of life influence physical and mental development

A Nigerian woman cooks millet paste as children eat breakfast from a shared bowl in the village of Tamou, 60 kilometers outside Niamey, Niger, Feb 2010 (file photo)
A Nigerian woman cooks millet paste as children eat breakfast from a shared bowl in the village of Tamou, 60 kilometers outside Niamey, Niger, Feb 2010 (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio

A new report highlights a brief period of early childhood as the most critical time to fight hunger -- and also reduce poverty.

The 2010 Global Hunger Index report was released Monday by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). It notes that, in recent years, experts have concluded that undernourishment between conception and a child's second birthday can have serious and long-lasting impacts.

Children who are undernourished during this approximately 1,000-day window can be physically stunted, and they are more likely to get sick and die than well-fed children. Preventing hunger allows children to develop both physically and mentally.

"They will be more likely to perform well in school," says IFPRI's Marie Ruel. "They will stay in school longer. And then at adulthood, IFPRI has actually demonstrated that children that were better nourished have higher wages, by a pretty large number, by 46 percent."

That means the productivity of a nation's future generations depends in a large part on the first 1,000 days of life, Ruel adds.

"This is why we're all on board on focusing on those thousand days to improve nutrition," she says. "After that, the damage is done and is highly irreversible."

The data on nutrition and childhood development has been slowly coming together for decades. But Ruel says scientific consensus alone will not solve the problem.

"It's not enough that nutritionists know you have to intervene then, if we don't have the politicians on board," she says, "and also the...people that implement [programs] in the field."

Ruel says there are encouraging signs that politicians and implementers are beginning to get on board. Many major donors and the United Nations are targeting hunger-relief programs at pregnant women and young children. They focus on improving diets or providing micronutrient supplements. They improve access to prenatal care and encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child's life.

Ruel says in the 1980s Thailand was able to reduce child undernourishment by recruiting a large number of volunteers to travel the countryside teaching about health and nutrition.

"They really did very active promotion of diversity in the diet and good eating habits," she says. "So they were providing more food to people, but also educating people on how to use them, and also educating people on how to feed their young children."

Ruel says countries may take different approaches to reducing child undernutrition. But she says nations will not make progress fighting hunger and poverty until they begin to focus on those critical first thousand days.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs