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Diet and development beyond 1000 days: ensuring children thrive as well as survive
  1. Marko Kerac
  1. Department of Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Marko Kerac, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK; Marko.Kerac{at}

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Malnutrition is a major global public health problem.1 The 2021 Global Nutrition Report warns that:

We are off track to meet five out of six global maternal, infant and young children nutrition targets, on stunting, wasting, low birth weight, anaemia and childhood overweight… unacceptable levels of malnutrition persist. Worldwide, 149.2 million children under 5 years of age are stunted, 45.4 million are wasted and 38.9 million are overweight.2

The risks of malnutrition are magnified by COVID-19-related health system, social and economic disruptions. The climate crisis even further escalates the risks. Exemplifying the perilous current situation, recent drought—the worst in 40 years—is threatening hunger across the Horn of Africa. In February 2022, the World Food Programme estimated that some 13 million people are in need of support. How the world responds to such present and future nutrition-related crises really matters. Helping child health and nutrition professionals think through how best to do that makes the paper from Bliznashka and colleagues3 on ‘Diet and development among children 36–59 months in low-income countries’ particularly timely and important. It neatly highlights three too-often neglected issues.

First, the authors’ main outcome, child development, is a critical reminder that improving nutrition is not just about ensuring children survive. They must also be supported to thrive. Malnutrition does indeed underlie almost half of all deaths in children aged under 5 years worldwide and work still needs to be …

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  • Contributors MK is the sole author of this invited editorial.

  • 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 Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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