Stunting in Nepal: looking back, looking ahead

Type Journal Article - Maternal & child nutrition
Title Stunting in Nepal: looking back, looking ahead
Volume 12
Issue S1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Page numbers 257-259
Nepal has made impressive gains in health and nutrition despite being in a state of political, economic and demographic transition. According to the Nepal Demographic Health Surveys, stunting in Nepal has fallen from 57% in 2001 to 41% in 2011, an annual decline of 1.7 percentage points. A 3.9% annual reduction is, however, required to achieve the global target of 40% fewer stunted children by 2025. The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey conducted in 2014 by the Central Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF indicated a further reduction in the proportion of stunted children to 37.4%. The recently drafted Sustainable Development Goal for Nepal, 2016–2030 has outlined a daunting challenge of reducing stunting in children under 5?years of age to 1% by 2030 for the long-term health, wellbeing, human capital development and national economic growth.

Stunting, which is caused by long-term nutrition deprivation early in a child's life, often begins before birth and is associated with increased risk of mortality from infectious diseases such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and measles in childhood (Pelletier et al. 2012; UNICEF 2013). It also leads to irreversible physical and cognitive damage, and poorer educational outcomes later in childhood and adolescence, with economic consequences for the individual, household and community levels (Walker et al. 2007). Stunted children who experience rapid weight gain after 2?years of age have increased risk of becoming overweight or obese later in life, with associated higher risk of non-communicable diseases like coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension and type II diabetes.

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