How to Ensure Nutrition Security in the Global Economic Crisis to Protect and Enhance Development of Young Children and our Common Future
This article provides recommendations for ensuring that the nutritional status of young children is maintained in times of global economic crises, which worsen the position of the poorest and most vulnerable people by compromising their diet and health and threatening the development of almost an entire generation of children (~250 million). High food prices reduce diversity and nutritional quality of the diet and for many also reduce food quantity. Poor households are hit hardest, because they already spend 50–80% of expenditures on food, little on medicines, education, transport, or cooking fuel, and cannot afford to pay more. Reduced public spending, declining incomes, increased food and fuel prices, and reduced remittance thus impede and reverse progress made toward Millenium Development Goals 1, 4, and 5. Investments in nutrition are among the most cost- effective development interventions because of very high benefit:cost ratios, for individuals and for sustainable growth of countries, because they protect health, prevent disability, boost economic productivity, and save lives. To bridge the gap between nutrient requirements, particularly for groups with high needs, and the realistic dietary intake under the prevailing circumstances, the use of complementary food supplements to increase a meal’s nutrient content is recommended. This can be in the form of, e.g., micronutrient powder or low-dose lipid-based nutrient supplements, which can be provided for free, in return for vouchers, at subsidized, or at commercial prices.
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