Improve malnutrition and stunting in children

03/01/2024

Stunting is a condition of impaired growth and development that children experience due to poor nutrition, repeated infections, and inadequate psychosocial development. Stunting is measured by comparing the height-for-age of children with the WHO Child Growth Standards, and children who fall below -2SD are considered stunted.

Child stunting is the most common form of malnutrition occurring globally. In developing countries, malnutrition appears as early as 4-5 months old and increases rapidly in the first 2-3 years. According to UNICEF/WHO/WB, an estimated 162 million children under 5 years old are stunted, of which 56% are concentrated in Asian children and 36% in African children. In Vietnam, although there have been many achievements in the prevention of malnutrition, the rate of stunting malnutrition among children in our country is still high (24.6%).

Causes and consequences of stunted children

The most direct causes of stunting in children are inadequate nutrition (not eating enough or eating foods that lack growth-stimulating nutrients) and recurrent or chronic infections or diseases that make the child more susceptible to stunting. Poor absorption or utilization of nutrients. In addition, a child’s physical growth is also influenced by genetics, exercise regime, and environmental factors…

The consequences of malnutrition and stunting in children are extremely serious. Stunting in the early stages of life, especially in the first 1000 days from conception until the child is 2 years old, impaired growth will cause adverse functional consequences for the child such as : poor awareness, poor learning outcomes, reduced labor productivity, increased burden of disease and death,…

Stunted children cause consequences such as poor cognitive function, poor academic performance, reduced labor productivity, and increased burden of disease and death. (Pic: Freepik)

Diet suitable for stunted children

The growth of children depends largely on their nutrition, which accounts for 32% of the height increase. Malnourished and stunted children should follow a diet that provides enough energy and covers the four essential nutrient groups (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and vitamins). This will help them achieve optimal growth potential.

Nutrition plays an important role in children’s growth and development. (Photo: Freepik)

For specialized nutrition for stunted children, the energy factor needs to be given top priority and it must be ensured that the amount of food consumed is greater than the amount consumed. In addition, stunted children also need to supplement nutrients that determine the development of stature and height such as calcium, vitamin D3, K2,…

That is why the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health of Vietnam have made recommendations in the treatment regimen for malnourished children, including malnourished and stunted children with high-energy formula F100 (100ml of preparation). nutritional product providing 100kcal). According to recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) since 1999, chronically malnourished children need to be supplemented with a high-energy diet according to the F100 formula during the nutritional recovery period after completing the treatment period. Initially, to regenerate energy and absorb enough nutrients into the body.

According to WHO recommendations, the high-energy diet according to the F100 formula supports nutritional recovery for malnourished children (Pic: Freepik)

In the world as well as in Vietnam, there have been many studies related to the correlation between diet and stunting in children:

A controlled community trial study to evaluate the improvement of nutritional status and diet of malnourished and stunted children 4-6 years old in 4 communes of Luc Ngan district, Bac Giang after supplementing with nutritious product, after 6 months, the height increase in the nutritional food intervention group was 3.53 ± 0.81cm, higher than 2.57 ± 1.89cm in the control group (p < 0, 05).

Headey’s (2018) study on dietary patterns in low-income countries also showed a strong association between consumption of foods of animal origin and height. For example, animal protein accounts for 9.5% of energy intake in Madagascar, where the average height of men is 161.5 cm; Botswanans get 12.5% of their calories from animal protein and men are on average 10cm taller

At the US Nutricare Institute of Medical Nutrition, we and Nutricare nutritional scientists have diligently researched and launched a specialized nutritional solution for stunted children with the product Hanie Kid. The product possesses a 100kcal high-energy formula that meets the recommendations of the World Health Organization combined with 24-hour colostrum imported directly from the US along with Calcium, vitamin D3, vitamin K2 to help children gain weight and height after 1 month, catch up with growth momentum.

In general, nutrition plays a very important role in children’s height development, so following a diet rich in protein (milk, beans, fish, meat products) and carbohydrates (fruits, sweets and desserts) may be associated with reduced rates of stunting in children.

References:

1. WHO (2015): Stunting in a nutshell.

2. Black R.E, Allen L.H, Bhutta Z.A et al (2008). Maternal and child under nutrition: Global and regional exposes and health consequences. The Lance, 371(9608), 243-260.

3. UNICEF/WHO/WB (2013). Child Malnutrition Database: Estimates for 2012 and Launch of Interactive Data Dashboards, 2-3.

4. Scientific American (2006). How much of human height is genetic and how much is due to nutrition? ​

5. Trương Tuyết Mai, Tuấn Thị Mai Phương, Trần Thị Thu Trang, Improving the nutritional status and diet of malnourished and stunted children 4-6 years old after supplementing nutritious products in Bac Giang, Journal of Preventive Medicine: Vol. 30, No. 8 (2020): NO. REGULARLY.

6. Phạm Quốc Hùng, Phạm Văn Hoan, Effectiveness of supplementing formula milk on nutritional status and health of children 36-60 months old, VIETNAM MEDICAL JOURNAL VOLUME 505 – AUGUST – NUMBER 1 – 2021.

7. DR. HUMAIRA QASIM, MBBS et al (2018): Weight gain on who recommended F100 diet in children under 5 years of age hospitalized with severe acute malnutrition.

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