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Improved diet quality, a missing ingredient for accelerating stunting reduction: an example from Ethiopia
  1. Kaleab Baye
  1. Center for Food Science and Nutrition, Addis Ababa University, College of Natural and Computational Sciences, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kaleab Baye, Center for Food Science and Nutrition, Addis Ababa University College of Natural Sciences, Addis Ababa 150201, Ethiopia; kaleabbaye{at}

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Stunting, a failure to grow to an expected height for age, is highly prevalent in low-income and middle-income countries. The consequences of stunting are well beyond short stature, as growth faltering (stunting) has been associated with higher risk of mortality, poor cognitive performance, low productivity and earnings, and chronic diseases in later life.1 Recognising the long-term and the largely irreversible consequences of stunting, public health interventions have focused on the first 1000 days of life, from conception to the second birthday, as a window of opportunity to prevent stunting and promote healthy growth. This period coincides with the timing of complementary feeding, when diet quality is of paramount importance. A recent study evaluating aspects of diet quality among infants and young children from 49 low-income and middle-income countries showed that poor diets are widespread and are associated with stunting.2 Using Ethiopia as an example, this paper aims to unpack this complex diet–stunting relationship.

Ethiopia has witnessed a remarkable progress in reducing stunting. The prevalence of stunting has declined from 57.6% in 2000 to 36.8% in 2019 (table 1), one of the fastest rates of stunting reduction in the world. However, a much faster reduction would still be needed to meet the targets of the sustainable …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.