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Nutritional status of school-age children and adolescents in low- and middle-income countries across seven global regions: a synthesis of scoping reviews

Author: Stephanie V Wrottesley, Emily Mates, Eilise Brennan, Vasundhara Bijalwan, Rachael Menezes, Stephanie Ray, Zakari Ali, Amirhossein Yarparvar, Deepika Sharma and Natasha Lelijveld
Year: 2022
Resource type: Article

Abstract

Objective: To summarise available evidence on the nutritional status of school-age children and adolescents (5–19 years) from seven global regions and on interventions implemented to improve malnutrition in this population.

Setting: Global.

Design: Findings were compiled from seven scoping literature reviews, including
data from low- and middle-income countries within the following UNICEF-defined
global regions: East Asia and Pacific; Europe and Central Asia; South Asia; West and
Central Africa; Eastern and Southern Africa; Middle East and North Africa and Latin
America and the Caribbean.

Results: A double burden of malnutrition was evident across the world regions
reviewed: stunting, thinness, anaemia and other micronutrient deficiencies
persisted, alongside rising overweight and obesity prevalence. Transitions towards
diets increasingly high in energy-dense, processed and micronutrient-poor foods
were observed. Evidence from intervention studies was limited, but suggested that
providing multiple micronutrient-fortified foods or beverages at school may effectively
target micronutrient deficiencies and facilitate weight gain in undernourished
populations. Interventions to prevent or manage overweight and obesity
were even more limited. There was minimal evidence of using novel technological
approaches to engage school-age children and adolescents, or of involving them in
designing interventions.

Conclusion: The limited data available on nutrition of school-age children and
adolescents are neither standardised nor comparable. Consensus on methods
for assessing nutritional status and its determinants for this age group is urgently
needed to set targets and monitor progress. Additionally, strategies are required to
ensure that nutritious, safe and sustainable diets are available, affordable and
appealing.

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Stephanie V Wrottesley, Emily Mates, Eilise Brennan, Vasundhara Bijalwan, Rachael Menezes, Stephanie Ray, Zakari Ali, Amirhossein Yarparvar, Deepika Sharma and Natasha Lelijveld (2022). Nutritional status of school-age children and adolescents in low- and middle-income countries across seven global regions: a synthesis of scoping reviews. www.ennonline.net/ansynthesisofscopingreviews

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