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Wasting and Stunting: Overcoming the divide

Wasting-Stunting (WaSt) Technical Interest Group (TIG)

Donor: Irish Aid, USAID, OFDA

Collaborators: Technical Interest Group

ENN project lead: Tanya Khara

Timeframe: 2014 - ongoing

Background

Since the 1970s, nutritionists have categorised undernutrition in two major ways, children are either wasted or stunted.

There has very rarely been consideration for the relationship between these two types of undernutrition with limited evidence to describe the associations between wasting and stunting. Little has previously been known on:  

The WaSt Technical Interest Group (TIG) was formed to examine this relationship. The group, coordinated by ENN is made up of 42 experts in child growth, nutrition, epidemiology. 

ENN’s main role since the group's formation has been to harness the skills and enthusiasm of the TIG and facilitate a number of influential project workstreams. The backbone of the expert group is the maintenance of a creative, transparent forum to scrutinise and explore the relationship between wasting and stunting, allowing it to serve the nutrition and wider humanitarian and development sectors as a hub for evidence and expert opinion which is free from organisational agendas.

A governance note outlines the mechanisms for ways of working.

What we now know as a result of the WaSt Project and the WaSt TIG:

  • In the past 4 years, research has shown that individual children are at risk of both conditions, might be born with both, pass from one state to the other over time, and accumulate risks to their health and life through their combined effects.
  • Country level data suggests that up to 8% of children under 5 may be both wasted and stunted at the same time, global estimates translate to around 16 million children.
  • Our reanalysis of data on survival shows that mortality risk for children concurrently wasted and stunted is equal to that of the most severe form of being wasted, and that there are opportunities for identifying these children at community level.
  • Evidence also indicates that seasonal stresses might underlie the connections between weight faltering and linear growth faltering.

The work so far:

We have had three phases of work thus far and are currently in the fourth

Phase 1 (2013- 2015):

The WaSt TIG completed the following pieces of work 

Phase 2 (2016- 2017):

The WaSt TIG completed the following pieces of work

Phase 3 (2018- 2019):

The WaSt TIG developed the following pieces of work:

Phase 4 (2020-):

In 2020, the WaSt TIG entered its fourth phase of the project, with work on key workstreams continuing. These include:

As these pieces of work progress, we will update this page accordingly.

Further work planned for the next two years is outlined in the workplan

For more information please contact Tanya Khara.

Publications

Wasting and Stunting Technical Interest Group Meeting. 12-13 May 2020.

Story of change: Wasting and stunting project

The relationship between wasting and stunting: a retrospective cohort analysis of longitudinal data in Gambian children from 1976 to 2016

Improving screening for malnourished children at high risk of death: a study of children aged 6–59 months in rural Senegal

Concurrent wasting and stunting among under-five children in Niakhar, Senegal

Children who are both wasted and stunted are also underweight and have a high risk of death: a descriptive epidemiology of multiple anthropometric deficits using data from 51 countries

Child wasting and stunting: Time to overcome the separation (2018) (also available in French, Spanish and Arabic)

Technical Briefing Paper: The relationship between wasting and stunting: policy, programming and research implications (2014)

Research Priorities on the Relationship between Wasting and Stunting

Children concurrently wasted and stunted: A meta-analysis of prevalence data of children 6 – 59 months from 84 countries

Wasting and stunting - similarities and differences: Policy and programmatic implications

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Reference this page

LD (2014). Wasting and Stunting: Overcoming the divide. www.ennonline.net/ourwork/reviews/wastingstunting

(ENN_1028)

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