Current Status of Malnutrition and Stunting in Pakistani Children: What Needs to Be Done?

Amanat Ali*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Malnutrition is one of the greatest health challenges that affects about 2 billion people globally. Multiple factors including poverty, food insecurity, maternal health and nutritional status, mother’s age at marriage and educational status, low birthweight or small for gestational age (SGA), premature births, suboptimal breastfeeding practices, unhealthy dietary and lifestyle patterns, health and immunization status of children, socioeconomic status of family, environmental and household conditions, together with cultural practices and myths, play vital role in affecting the growth of children at early age. Although child stunting has declined in Pakistan, the reduction rate is only 0.5%, which is very low. This may be due to ineffective or inappropriate intervention programs as they are mostly addressing only one issue at a time and don’t use the multi-sector approach to address numerous determinants of stunting. It is therefore important to initiate cost-effective multi-tiered intervention approaches to be implemented at pre-conception, pregnancy and early postpartum stages to prevent the problems of malnutrition and stunting in Pakistani children. This review discusses the etiology of child malnutrition and stunting in Pakistan, role of various determinants of stunting and what type of intervention strategies and approaches should be developed and implemented to deal with these problems. Key teaching points Malnutrition is one of the greatest global health challenges. Poverty, food insecurity, socioeconomic status, unhealthy dietary patterns, maternal health and nutritional status, low birthweight, suboptimal breast feeding, environmental conditions, cultural practices and myths, are the main factors for child malnutrition and stunting in Pakistan. The slow reduction rate in child stunting may be due to inappropriate intervention programs. Cost-effective multi-tiered intervention approaches must be implemented at pre-conception, pregnancy and early postpartum stages to prevent child malnutrition and stunting in Pakistan. A holistic approach comprising nutrition and WASH interventions, together with strategies to improve the socioeconomic status be developed and implemented to resolve this dilemma.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the American College of Nutrition
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020

Keywords

  • Children
  • determinants
  • malnutrition
  • Pakistan
  • stunting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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