Menu ENN Search

Adolescent nutrition mapping study: A global stakeholder survey of policies, research, interventions and data gaps

Author: Zakari Ali, Natasha Lelijveld, Stephanie Wrottesley and Emily Mates
Year: 2020
Resource type: Research

Executive summary

Nutrition in school-aged children and adolescents can significantly impact lifelong health and wellbeing as well as national economic growth and the health and development of future generations. There is currently a lack of information and/or consensus on the burden and long-term effects of malnutrition in adolescents, the metrics and indicators needed to define and prioritise nutritional deficits, adequacy and improvements and successful interventions to tackle adolescent malnutrition.

To map ongoing activities and experiences, we undertook a survey of stakeholders. The survey had three main sections, 1) research and data, 2) policies, strategies and guidelines on adolescent nutrition and 3) interventions and programmes targeting adolescents. Nutrition outcomes of interest were categorised as micronutrient status, undernutrition (including wasting, thinness and stunting), overweight and obesity and dietary behaviours or practices. The analysis included 133 responses with representation from across 42 countries covering seven United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) global regions. Most respondents reported that their work focuses on low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) across Africa and Asia.

The results identified that research on adolescent nutrition has mainly focused on burden while indicators and consequences of malnutrition have received less attention. Micronutrient deficiencies, diets and undernutrition have been the focus of most studies with adolescent overweight and obesity receiving less attention. Policies targeting adolescents are available at international, regional and national levels and come from a range of sectors. Most adolescent nutrition programmes and interventions are provided through health, nutrition and education sectors with support from United Nations (UN) agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Many of the successful and large-scale adolescent nutrition programmes described by the respondents focus on micronutrient deficiencies, especially anaemia reduction through weekly iron and folate distributions. Other large-scale programmes include social media campaigns and school-based peer education programmes to influence diet choices.

The survey identified that a wide variety of definitions are being used for the adolescent period and, in some contexts, no definition is available at all. This lack of agreement creates difficulties in providing representative and comparable data on adolescents across the world. Data that does exist often cannot be compared because of differences between the age groups studied or how age groups are disaggregated. Differences between the reference populations used to define malnutrition further limit comparability. Thus, it would be helpful for organisations and national governments to adopt a universal definition of adolescence.

The lack of an agreed upon definition for adolescence may be acting as an important barrier to establishing national and international adolescent nutrition targets. In addition, there are a number of other important data and policy gaps for adolescent nutrition that need to be addressed including standardised anthropometric definitions of malnutrition in adolescents and school-age children, particularly those feasible for use in emergency contexts, data on current and optimal diets, the inclusion and/or disaggregation of adolescent data within national surveys, data on sub-groups within adolescence (e.g., males, refugees, out-of-school adolescents), evidence on effective interventions to reach adolescents, adolescent voices within research, adolescent-specific targets, nationally and internationally, the inclusion of adolescents within national health and nutrition policies and designated research funding for this age group.

Lastly, our results suggest that, among this group of stakeholders (largely working in LMICs in Africa and Asia), overweight and obesity research, policies and programming efforts are the least represented areas of adolescent malnutrition. This is a worrying omission considering the rising tide of overnutrition and obesity across all age groups and the lifelong adverse consequences that can result.

Recommendations

- Effective interventions, particularly for dietary patterns and overweight/obesity
- The nutritional needs of subgroups including male adolescents, those out-of-school and adolescents in humanitarian contexts
- The most useful indicators to identify and classify malnutrition
- How best to reach adolescents, for example utilising new opportunities via social media platforms

Download

Adolescent-nutrition-mapping-study_16Dec2020.pdf (PDF, 5.1mb)

More like this

FEX: Adolescent nutrition mapping study: A global stakeholder survey of policies, research, interventions and data gaps

View this article as a pdf Summary of research1 Nutrition in school-aged children and adolescents can significantly impact lifelong health and wellbeing as well as the...

FEX: Use of anthropometry in school-aged children and adolescents

This is a summary of a Field Exchange research summary that was included in issue 66. The original article was authored by Natasha Lelijveld Natasha Lelijveld is a Senior...

FEX: Anthropometric assessment of nutritional status in school-aged children and adolescents

View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici By Natasha Lelijveld Natasha Lelijveld is a senior nutritionist at ENN. She has previously worked in...

FEX: Systems approach to prevent all forms of malnutrition among children 5-19 years

View this article as a pdf By Deepika Sharma and Vilma Tyler Deepika Sharma is a Nutrition Specialist and the focal point for the nutrition of children in school-age and...

Resource: Adolescent Nutrition Meeting Report 2021

Summary The World Health Organization (WHO) defines adolescence as the period between 10 and 19 years of age. During this critical phase of life, adolescents experience rapid...

FEX: Early is best but it is not always too late. Young Lives evidence on nutrition and growth in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam

View this article as a pdf Summary of report Location: Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam What this article is about: Anthropometric data, taken from 12,000 children across...

Resource: Women's nutrition: A summary of evidence, policy and practice including adolescent and maternal life stages

Please scroll down for links to download the Executive Summary (also available in French) and full report Lisez cet document d'information technique en français ici...

FEX: Diet and nutrition status among school-age children and adolescents in Tanzania

View this article as a pdf By Sauli John, Geofrey Mchau, Heavenlight Ayubu, Stanslaus Mafung'a, Samafilan Ainan, Wiggins Kyatikila, Elizabeth Lyimo, Frank Chacky, Fatoumata...

FEX: Adolescent Nutrition: Policy and programming in SUN+ countries

Summary of report1 This summary was prepared by Emily Mates (ENN) who undertook the review as an independent consultant together with Tanya Khara (independent), with the...

FEX: Current evidence on anaemia and micronutrient supplementation strategies in school-age children and adolescents

View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici By Elena Hemler, Wafaie Fawzi and Stephanie Wrottesley Elena Hemler is senior project coordinator for the...

FEX: Addressing Knowledge Gaps in Adolescent Nutrition

View this article as a pdf This is a summary of the following paper: Canavan, C. & Fawzi, W.W. (2019). Addressing Knowledge Gaps in Adolescent Nutrition: Toward Advancing...

FEX: UNICEF programming guidance: Nutrition in middle childhood and adolescence

View this article as a pdf UNICEF (2021). UNICEF programming guidance: Nutrition in middle childhood and adolescence. Available from:...

FEX: Tackling the double burden of malnutrition in low and middle-income countries: response of the international community

Research By Alexandra Rutishauser-Perera Alexandra Rutishauser-Perera is a Humanitarian Nutrition Adviser with Save the Children. She has ten years of experience of public...

FEX: Adolescent Nutrition Interest Group meeting

A one-day meeting of the Adolescent Nutrition Interest Group (ANIG) was held in London on 12 December 2017. The meeting was co-hosted by Emergency Nutrition Network (ENN),...

FEX: Determinants of adolescent nutritional status and practices in Burkina Faso: A pooled secondary analysis

View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici By Deepali Godha, Maurice Zafimanjaka, Estelle Bambara, Nathalie Likhite and Manisha Tharaney. Deepali...

NEX: Tackling overweight and obesity in Ecuador : Policies and strategies for prevention

Angélica Ochoa-Avilés is a professor/researcher at the Food Nutrition and Health Unit, Department of Biosciences, Cuenca University, Ecuador. Gabriela...

FEX: Dietary intake and practices of adolescent girls in low and middle-income countries: A systematic review

View this article as a pdf This is a summary of the following paper: Keats, E.C., Rappaport, A.I., Shah, S., Oh, C., Jain, R. & Bhutta, Z.A. (2018). The Dietary Intake and...

NEX: Meeting the health and nutrition needs of adolescents and youth in Ethiopia

View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici Meseret Zelalem is a paediatrician and Director of the Maternal and Child Health Directorate of the...

Adolescent Nutrition

Donors: Irish Aid Collaborators: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Save the Children ENN project lead and contact: Emily Mates Timeframe: until end...

FEX: Preventing teen pregnancies and supporting pregnant teenagers in Ecuador

View this article as a pdf By Sara Bernardini, Geraldine Honton, Laura Irizarry, Jesús Sanz, Estefanía Castillo, Carmen Guevara and Lorena Andrade Sara...

Close

Reference this page

Zakari Ali, Natasha Lelijveld, Stephanie Wrottesley and Emily Mates (2020). Adolescent nutrition mapping study: A global stakeholder survey of policies, research, interventions and data gaps. www.ennonline.net/adolescentnutritionmappingstudy

(ENN_6879)

Close

Download to a citation manager

The below files can be imported into your preferred reference management tool, most tools will allow you to manually import the RIS file. Endnote may required a specific filter file to be used.