Interventions to prevent child wasting should be implemented before age two

June 28, 2022 – Wasting, which in children is defined as being too thin for their height due to recent weight loss from illness or poor nutrition, affects almost 50 million children worldwide and increases the risk of the child’s death or long-term negative effects on the child’s development.

To better understand the prevalence of wasting in children living in lower- and middle-income countries, researchers led by S.V. Subramanian, professor of population health and geography at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, analyzed 804,172 children under age five who were living in 94 of these countries worldwide.

The researchers determined that wasting was more common for children under two (14%) than children 2-4 years old (9%). The Lancet published their findings on March 22, 2022.

In the paper, the researchers recommend that “nutrition interventions should ensure coverage of children under two through programmatic measures to increase detection and enrollment in wasting programs” because adverse exposure to undernutrition and infections are particularly harmful at this age and interventions are more effective during the 1000 days from conception until age two.

Read The Lancet paper: Child wasting before and after age two years: A cross-sectional study of 94 countries