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Adolescent Nutrition Meeting Report 2021

Author: Emergency Nutrition Network (ENN)
Year: 2021
Resource type: Report

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 growth and development which impacts their lifelong health and wellbeing. In addition, the nutritional status of adolescents, and of girls in particular, forms the foundation for healthy growth, development and susceptibility to disease in the next generation. This is particularly relevant in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where 95% of the 12 million global adolescent births occur each year1

The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal 2 to ‘end hunger’ calls for action towards ending all forms of malnutrition by 2030. However, research and investment to achieve this goal has predominantly focused on children under the age of five years and on pregnant and lactating women with adolescents receiving little attention within the global nutrition agenda.

In 2016, The Lancet commission on adolescent health and wellbeing highlighted a number of gaps in our understanding of how to improve adolescent health and nutrition. These included a lack of data from LMICs, as well as disaggregated data by age groups and gender, the need for more adolescent-focused and/or adolescent-friendly interventions, a global consensus on research priorities and a better understanding of what influences and motivates adolescent behaviour change2. While evidence and programme experience in this area has grown since 2016, a lack of information and consensus on the burden of malnutrition and on successful interventions to improve malnutrition in adolescents remains.

Since the Lancet commission paper in 2016, interest has been growing in adolescent nutrition. A number of international meetings have been held and ENN has coordinated an Interest Group since 2017, which currently has 70 members. In the group’s regular discussions, it was considered an important time to bring together researchers, academics, practitioners and young people for a two-day virtual meeting on adolescent nutrition. While understanding that virtual meetings need to be shorter than in-person events, the aim of the meeting was to understand the current state of research and programmatic responses related to the nutrition of adolescents and to discuss plans for the future. It was organised by ENN, UNICEF and Save the Children with funding support from Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs. The meeting had two main objectives:

  1. To share information on some of the latest research and operational initiatives in adolescent nutrition
  2. To explore priorities for assessing and improving adolescent nutrition across policies and programming

Two presentations were given each day, followed by a panel discussion. On the first day, the subject of the panel discussion was ‘Youth engagement in adolescent nutrition’ and it was moderated and attended by youth representatives.

The webinar was very well attended with a large number of participants (n = 505) from all world regions. The majority were from Africa (42%), Europe (20%) and North America (17%). Participants worked across a range of sectors including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) (42%), UN organisations (17%) and academic institutions (16%) with global representation across these sectors.

 

The video recordings and available slides from the webinar are available online here.

Read more...

1 https://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/events/2008/mdg5/adolescent_preg.pdf?ua=1

2 Patton, G C, Sawyer, S M, Santelli J S, Ross, D A, Afifi, R, Allen, N B, et al. Our future: A Lancet commission on adolescent health and wellbeing. The Lancet [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2018 Mar 13]; 387:2423–78. Available from: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)00579-1/abstract

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Emergency Nutrition Network (ENN) (2021). Adolescent Nutrition Meeting Report 2021. www.ennonline.net/adolescentnutritionmeetingreport2021

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