In South Asia, feeding practices of young children are characterised by late introduction of complementary foods, insufficient feeding frequency, and poor dietary diversity, with large disparities between and within countries. Far too few infants and young children in the region are fed a minimally diverse diet with only 1 in 4 young children aged 6-23 months being fed at least 4 food groups as recommended by WHO and UNICEF.
Poor infant and young child feeding practices contribute significantly to both childhood undernutrition and the emerging issue of childhood overweight and obesity in the region. Analysis from the region demonstrates a strong association between poor complementary feeding practices and both stunting and wasting in young children. Therefore, the stakes are high for improving the complementary feeding of young children in South Asia in order to accelerate progress in meeting the ambitious SDG 2 targets agreed by countries to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030.
To catalyse coordinated actions and large-scale improvements in the diets and feeding practices of young children in the region, the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA) are organising a regional conference on "STOP STUNTING: improving young children’s diets in South Asia".
The Regional Conference will discuss and identify actions needed to accelerate improvements in diets and feeding practices of young children in South Asia. It will bring together government representatives, researchers, UN partners, civil society organisations and other development partners from across South Asia to exchange regional analyses, expertise and experiences on improving diets and feeding practices of young children during the complementary feeding period.
Ty Beal, GAIN Technical Specialist, Knowledge Leadership, will take part in the event with a talk entitled "Availability, affordability, and accessibility of nutritious complementary foods in South Asia."