Menu ENN Search

Beyond wasted and stunted—a major shift to fight child undernutrition

Author: Jonathan C KWells, André Briend, Erin M Boyd, James A Berkely, Andrew Hall, Sheila Isanaka, Patrick Webb, Tanya Khara, Carmel Dolan
Year: 2019
Resource type: Article

This is the word version of the Viewpoint article as published in the Lancet Journal of Child and Adolescent Heath.

Abstract

Child undernutrition refers broadly to the condition in which food intake is inadequate to meet a child’s needs for physiological function, growth, and the capacity to respond to illness. Since the 1970s, nutritionists have categorised undernutrition in two major ways, either as wasted (i.e., low weight for height, or small mid-upper arm circumference) or stunted (i.e., low height for age). This approach, although useful for identifying populations at risk of undernutrition, creates several problems: the focus is on children who have already become undernourished, and this approach draws an artificial distinction between two idealised types of undernourished children that are widely interpreted as indicative of either acute or chronic undernutrition. This distinction in turn has led to the separation of programmatic approaches to prevent and treat child undernutrition. In the past 3 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. The current emphasis on identifying children who are already wasted or stunted detracts attention from the larger number of children undergoing the process of becoming undernourished. We call for a major shift in thinking regarding how we assess child undernutrition, and how prevention and treatment programmes can best address the diverse causes and dynamic biological processes that underlie undernutrition.

Read the full article here

Download

Beyond-WaSt.pdf (PDF, 337kb)

More like this

Resource: Beyond wasted and stunted—a major shift to fight child undernutrition

Summary Child undernutrition refers broadly to the condition in which food intake is inadequate to meet a child's needs for physiological function, growth, and the...

FEX: A reflection on the 2021 Lancet Maternal & Child Nutrition Series through a WaSt lens

View this article as a pdf This article provides a summary of the Lancet Maternal & Child Nutrition Series to date, reflecting upon the 2021 series from the perspective of the...

FEX: Response to malnutrition treatment in low weight-for-age children: secondary analyses of ComPAS trial data

View this article as a pdf Research summary1 Location: Kenya and South Sudan What we know: Children who are concurrently wasted and stunted (WaSt) have a very high mortality...

Resources on Wasting and Stunting

Technical Briefing Paper from the Wasting and Stunting Technical Interest Group: Updating evidence on the relationship between wasting and stunting Anthropometric criteria for...

FEX: Wasting and stunting risk factors in Somalian internally displaced person settlements

View this article as a pdf This article summarises the key findings of a recent Link Nutrition Causal Analysis (NCA) study conducted in Settlements for the Internally...

FEX: The Wasting-Stunting Technical Interest Group: A summary of the work to date

View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici This article outlines the work of the Wasting-Stunting Technical Interest Group since its inception in...

FEX: Predicting coexistence of wasting and stunting in Guinea-Bissau: A secondary data analysis

Summary of MSc thesis1 By Abbi Sage Abbi Sage is a recent MSc graduate in Nutrition for Global Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is now part...

FEX: The relationship between wasting and stunting in young children: A systematic review

View this article as a pdf This article was written by Susan Thurstans, PhD candidate at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and consultant to ENN on the...

FEX: WaSt Special Section Editorial

View this article as a pdf Dear readers, Our aim with this special section of Field Exchange (FEX) is to convey to you the scope of work that the Wasting and Stunting...

Wasting and Stunting: Overcoming the divide

Since the 1970s, those working in nutrition have categorised undernutrition in two major ways, children are either wasted or stunted. There has very rarely been consideration...

Wasting and Stunting: Evidence Generation

Within the WaSt TIG, we continue to generate evidence to increase the understanding of the relationship between wasting and stunting and what this tells us about their...

FEX: Maternal mid-upper arm circumference: Still relevant to identify adverse birth outcomes in humanitarian contexts?

View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici Sonia Kapil is a former Graduate Researcher at Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health Mija...

Blog post: Child wasting and stunting - are we where we need to be?

We've been on a high this week with the publication of the Viewpoint from the ENN coordinated Wasting-Stunting Technical Interest Group (WaSt TIG). 'Beyond wasted and...

FEX: Link NCA offers a new opportunity to study drivers of concurrent wasting and stunting (WaSt)

View this article as a pdf By Lenka Blanárová and Grace Heymsfield Lenka Blanárová is Senior Nutrition Assessment Coordinator at Action Against...

en-net: Is stunted children less prone to be wasted than normal children during emergency context?

Dear experts, In the country where I recide, we have high prevalence of stunting and low prevalence of wasting and in emergency context same is seen- high prevalence of...

FEX: Multi-sector nutrition programming: ‘Nutrition Smart Villages’ in Bangladesh and India

View this article as a pdf By Sweta Banerjee Sweta Banerjee is the Nutrition Specialist for Welthungerhilfe's India country programme. She provides support to the food and...

FEX: How do children with severe underweight and wasting respond to treatment?

View this article as a pdf This is a summary of the following paper: Odei Obeng-Amoako G, Stobaugh H, Wrottesley S et al (2023) How do children with severe underweight and...

FEX: Wasting prevention and treatment - central to stunting reduction in Pakistan

View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici Click here to listen to more information on the work being done in Pakistan on the ENN podcast channel By...

FEX: Wasting and Stunting Technical Interest Group (WaSt TIG) meeting

On the 15th of January 2018 the Wasting and Stunting (WaSt) Technical Interest Group (TIG) held their third face-to-face meeting at Trinity College, Oxford. This group of 30...

en-net: Growth monitoring Vs stunting/wasting

If a child is growing normally following the growth trajectory based on a growth chart, can we say that the child is not wasted/stunted? I know that if a child is low...

Close

Reference this page

Jonathan C KWells, André Briend, Erin M Boyd, James A Berkely, Andrew Hall, Sheila Isanaka, Patrick Webb, Tanya Khara, Carmel Dolan (2019). Beyond wasted and stunted—a major shift to fight child undernutrition. www.ennonline.net/resource/beyondwast

(ENN_6434)

Close

Download to a citation manager

The below files can be imported into your preferred reference management tool, most tools will allow you to manually import the RIS file. Endnote may required a specific filter file to be used.