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Wasting in the wider context of undernutrition: An ENN position paper

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Research snapshot1

ENN has produced a position paper that explores how we view wasting in the wider context of undernutrition and what this means for nutrition and other sectors. Drawing upon our areas of work, the paper reflects evolving evidence and knowledge and aims to provide national and international actors with an overview of the current evidence and issues that can be considered in efforts to combat undernutrition.

The paper stresses that wasting cannot be viewed separately from other manifestations of undernutrition as all manifestations impact the growth, development and wellbeing of infants and children. Critically, the paper highlights the need to shift from a focus on anthropometric deficits to the consideration of the levels of risk of becoming wasted for both individuals and communities. Key preventative opportunities to avert risk throughout the lifecycle and seasonal calendar exist and should be leveraged. These should include improving the health and nutrition of adolescent girls and pregnant women for their individual benefit and to optimise in utero growth and the subsequent growth of their infants and young children.

Triggering early action to avert individual risks and interrupt the process of wasting is vital. To support prevention and treatment efforts, country-level structures must be strengthened to deliver context-specific interventions. In protracted fragile contexts, a long-term development agenda is required. Global level mechanisms must support government-led and government-implemented programmes, informed by a coordinated knowledge and research agenda. 

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Wasting in the wider context of undernutrition: An ENN position paper. Field Exchange 63, October 2020. p73. www.ennonline.net/fex/63/ennwastingpositionpaper

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