Undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and anemia amplify gender inequalities by lowering learning potential, wages and life opportunities for adolescent girls and women, weakening their immunity to infections, and increasing their risk of life-threatening complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The report findings reveal a lack of progress on nutrition in adolescent girls and women in the last two decades and that the global food and nutrition crisis is now pushing millions of mothers and their young children in to malnutrition and hunger. Without urgent action from governments and the international community, the consequences could last for generations to come.
- The number of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers suffering from acute malnutrition has soared from 5.5 million to 6.9 million – or 25% – since 2020 in 12 countries hardest – hit by the global food and nutrition crisis
- Half of stunting in children under 2 develops during pregnancy and the first six months of life, the 500-day period when a child is fully dependent on maternal nutrition, raising the alarm on the need to invest in essential nutrition programs for adolescent girls and women
- An undernourished mother is more likely to give birth to a child who is born too small and too thin, and who suffers from wasting and/or stunting in early childhood, perpetuating a vicious cycle of undernutrition and poverty. Breaking this vicious cycle requires a clear focus on nutrition in adolescent girls and women, before and during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
- South Asia and sub-Saharan African remain the epicenter of the nutrition crisis among adolescent girls and women, home to 2 in 3 adolescent girls and women suffering from underweight globally, and 3 in 5 adolescent girls and women with anemia
How to Use
- Stakeholders can use this resource as a call to action to invest in essential nutrition programs to address malnutrition in mothers and babies. This includes ensuring access to vital nutrition services before and during pregnancy and while breastfeeding; a core part of which is making antenatal multiple micronutrient supplements – which is standard care in high-income countries – accessible to women in low- and middle-income countries too.
- Harnessing the data and evidence from this report to inform policy and program decisions and strengthen accountability for adolescent girls’ and women’s nutrition, governments and partners must expand access to social transfer programs for adolescent girls and women, including in fragile settings and humanitarian crises.
The Executive Summary is available in English, French and Spanish .