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Wasting Prevention

Donors: DFID funded MQSUN+ facility

Collaborators: MQSUN+/PATH; Rebecca Brown and Jose Luis Álvarez Morán (ENN Consultants)

ENN project lead and contactCarmel Dolan

Timeframe: Completes May 2018


The global burden of wasting (52 million children 0-59 months of age) is a major global public health crisis. The World Health Organisation (WHO)'s current definition of wasting is below -2 z-scores of thmedian WHO growth standards. However, both low mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) of <125mm and bilateral nutritional oedema /kwashiorkor are also classified and treated as acute malnutrition. Wasting can lead to death but also affects children's prospects of surviving and thriving in all areas of their lives. Repeated episodes of wasting can impair linear growth, with knock-on effects for economic development.

The treatment of wasting has expanded beyond humanitarian emergencies, with services now routinely integrated into health systems across Africa, parts of Asia and the Middle East. Nonetheless, treatment is available for an estimated 3 million children per year or less than 15% coverage, leaving a significant treatment deficit. An estimated 8.5 million of wasted children are infants under six months of age, although quality evidence and practice for treating this group lags behind. Furthermore, nutrition-specificand nutrition-sensitive activities to prevent wasting in all its forms lack robust evidence of their effectiveness.

Project summary

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has requested that MQSUN+ support DFID and the wider nutrition community to accelerate coordinated action to develop evidence of what works to prevent wasting. The outputs from the first phase of the project were a briefing note on what we currently know about the aetiology of wasting (led by Tanya Khara, ENN Technical Director), and a more detailed review of evidence and stakeholder opinion on what works for the prevention of wasting (led by ENN consultants).

A second phase of this project is now underway which will build on the research gaps identified in phase 1. This phase will comprise a research prioritisation exercise with leading experts in this field to establish research priorities for strengthening current approaches to wasting prevention. Read the project summary for more details and click here for information about how to participate in this project.


Research prioritisation exercise for improving wasting prevention: project summary (ENN, 2018) 






 The aetiology of wasting (ENN, 2018) 



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chloe (2018). Wasting Prevention.



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