Menu ENN Search

Wasting and Stunting-making progress on understanding the links

Friday 16th February, 2017

By Carmel Dolan, ENN Technical Director 

Some of you will know that ENN has been coordinating a project with the expert steer of around 30 child growth and nutrition specialists from academia, donor and operational agencies. Collectively, we are known as the Wasting-Stunting Technical Interest Group (WAST-TIG) and we have been interacting across various work streams for a few years thanks to generous funding from Irish Aid and USAID OFDA.  

ENN originally formed this group because we wanted to better understand whether there are physiological/biological links between the process of becoming wasted and stunted and particularly, if one increases the risk of the other. We also want to understand the possible mechanisms for this interaction.

As many of you reading this blog will know, the nutrition sector has tended to focus on wasting more in emergency situations and stunting, from more of a developmental perspective and this has tended to manifest itself in ‘siloed’ policies, plans, programmes and research (read more about that here). It’s good to know that this is changing thanks to initiatives like the SUN Movement, through donors challenging these assumptions and beginning to put in place more flexible funding facilities and the general focus in the sector to support governments to develop more holistic nutrition planning to address all forms of malnutrition where these exist.

The WAST TIG have been focussed on two main areas of work in 2016; re-analysis of data from the MRC Gambia and, cross sectional data from SMART surveys. Our process is to form small but dynamic working groups from the wider TIG, agree which research questions we can answer from our priorities (Read more about research priorities here) and regularly interact with the data analysts to discuss emerging results and next steps. Many of the people in the TIG give their time and expertise freely and have greatly enriched and guided the process. It is a laudable model for getting research undertaken through such open collaboration and by analysing data which already exists.  

We are now at a point when important findings are emerging. So, as a flavour of what we will be sharing in 2017, here a few headlines;

  1. A period of being wasted (even just once) is a risk factor for being stunted.
  2. Being wasted and stunted at the same time (concurrently) conveys an elevated risk of mortality comparable with that associated with being severely wasted
  3. Boys are more likely to be concurrently wasted and stunted than girls. It looks like this is also the case for wasting and stunting dealt with separately.
  4. Younger children (<2yrs) are more likely to be concurrently wasted and stunted than older children.
  5. The season a child is born in defines its experience of wasting and stunting throughout childhood.

Although some might say, ‘well, this isn’t new’, it would be right to ask questions about whether enough attention is being given to the heightened nutrition vulnerability amongst young males and the causes of this vulnerability? Why are we not intervening given the very high mortality risk associated with being concurrently wasted and stunted? Whether we are doing enough to prevent poor infant and child growth where seasonality places added risks and, whether we are getting better at tackling wasting and stunting in the same programmes? 

2017 will see the WAST TIG do further analysis, publications, a policy-practice brief and meet at various intervals in the year. We will keep our network informed of any updates but meanwhile, if you want to know more, feel free to contact carmel@ennonline.net and tanya@ennonline.net or read more about the ENN's WAST project here. 

 

 

 

 

 

More like this

Blog post: Wasting and Stunting-making progress on understanding the links

Some of you will know that ENN has been coordinating a project with the expert steer of around 30 child growth and nutrition specialists from academia, donor and operational...

Review of the links between wasting and stunting

Donor: OFDA and Irish Aid Collaborators: Technical Interest Group ENN project lead: Carmel Dolan Timeframe: 2014 - ongoing Background While wasting and stunting share...

ENN updates

Wasting and Stunting-making progress on understanding the links 16th February, 2017 By Carmel Dolan, ENN Technical Director Some of you will know that ENN has been...

FEX: Children concurrently wasted and stunted: A meta-analysis of prevalence data of children 6–59 months from 84 countries

Summary of research By Tanya Khara, Martha Mwangome, Moses Ngari and Carmel Dolan Tanya Khara and Carmel Dolan are ENN Technical Directors. They coordinate the ENN...

FEX: ENN hosted Wasting-Stunting Technical Interest Group meeting

By Tanya Khara, ENN WaSt Project Consultant On January 29th 2016, the ENN with USAID OFDA and Irish Aid funding convened the second meeting of the Wasting and Stunting (WaSt)...

ENN Latest

ENN has released a new discussion paper on 'Stunting in Protracted Emergencies'. Funded by Irish Aid, this paper outlines the difficulties of gaining a clear...

FEX: The relationship between wasting and stunting: policy, programming and research implications

Summary of review1 This summary was prepared by Tanya Khara, an independent consultant engaged by the ENN on this review. The review was made possible by the generous support...

FEX: Predicting coexistence of wasting and stunting in Guinea-Bissau: A secondary data analysis

Summary of MSc thesis1 By Abbi Sage Abbi Sage is a recent MSc graduate in Nutrition for Global Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is now part...

Resource: Children concurrently wasted and stunted: A meta-analysis of prevalence data of children 6 – 59 months from 84 countries

Children can be stunted and wasted at the same time. Having both deficits greatly elevates risk of mortality. The analysis aimed to estimate the prevalence and burden of...

Other meetings

ENN initiates meetings where there are important gaps related to policy, programming and research and organises meetings where ENN coordinates long term technical projects....

FEX: Research priorities on the relationship between wasting and stunting

Summary of research* Location: Global. What we know: There is global momentum to bring down levels of undernutrition. Wasting and stunting frequently co-exist, but are often...

Wasting and Stunting concurrence meta-analysis

Important new study published with open access in Maternal and Child Nutrition 'Children concurrently wasted and stunted: A meta-analysis of prevalence data of children...

en-net: Growth monitoring Vs stunting/wasting

If a child is growing normally following the growth trajectory based on a growth chart, can we say that the child is not wasted/stunted? I know that if a child is low...

FEX: Planned ENN review of wasting and stunting linkages

Summary of article1 Location: Global What we know: The relationship between wasting and stunting is under researched and poorly understood. What this article adds: A...

Resource: Stunting in protracted crises: discussion paper

Currently, the level of attention afforded to linear growth below international standards (stunting) in humanitarian and protracted emergency contexts is below what is needed,...

en-net: Welcome and WaSt Research Prioritisation Published

Dear TIG members.
Welcome to the discussion/sharing forum for WaSt. To start us off i'm just sharing the newly published WaSt Research Prioritisation paper from...

en-net: Is stunted children less prone to be wasted than normal children during emergency context?

Dear experts, In the country where I recide, we have high prevalence of stunting and low prevalence of wasting and in emergency context same is seen- high prevalence of...

Management of Acute Malnutrition in Infants under six months (MAMI)

Donors: OFDA, Irish Aid Collaborators: LSHTM, University of Washington, KEMRI, WHO, UNHCR, UNICEF, Save the Children, ACF, Goal and independent experts. ENN project lead:...

FEX: Relationships between wasting and stunting and their concurrent occurrence in Ghanaian pre-school children

Summary of research* Location: Ghana. What we know: Wasting is a short-term health issue, but repeated episodes may lead to stunting (long-term or chronic malnutrition). This...

FEX: Update of UNICEF/WHO/World Bank database on child malnutrition

Summary of research1 Location: Global What we know: A joint database on child malnutrition is maintained by UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank. To date this has not included...

Close

Reference this page

Carmel Dolan (2017). Wasting and Stunting-making progress on understanding the links. www.ennonline.net/ennupdates/waststuntprogress