The first decade of a child’s life builds an unshakeable foundation rife with opportunities.
Fostering healthy diets during this time can reverberate positively throughout entire societies. The dividends are limitless. A child that eats well can grow well, creating a valuable stepping stone to adolescence and to becoming fully participating members of society.
The period from birth until age 10 is one of rapid growth and constant change – nutrition needs, and eating habits evolve as children grow, gain autonomy and, their influencers widen beyond their parents and caregivers to include siblings, friends, teachers, community figures and even celebrities.
Yet, when children need good diets most, they often fail to get to them. In low-and middle-income countries, few infants 6-23months eat a minimum acceptable diet (Food Systems Dashboard, 2020), and we know little about the diets of older children due to data gaps. Poor diets are one factor contributing to the multiple burdens of malnutrition faced by children.
Our food systems - people and activities that play a part in growing, transporting, supplying, and, ultimately, eating food – and the discourse around them do not always account for the specific needs of children.
During the COVID-19 pandemic as food systems face new kinds of stress, shaping children’s diets towards better nutrition is more important than ever. The present disruption to food systems and income sources means that child wasting is predicted to increase as much as 14.3% (Lancet, 2020).
GAIN’s Better Diets for Children programme connects actors across the food system and other sectors to improve food systems to better protect and cater to the needs of children through innovative partnerships and programmes.
In doing so GAIN aims to improve children’s diets in low-and middle-income countries to prevent the risk of all forms of malnutrition and non-communicable diseases ensuring a child’s adequate development.
We generate evidence and implement projects that aim to:
- Make foods for children more nutritious, safer and affordable by providing support to Small and Medium Enterprises that manufacture these foods and by improving the environments where children eat.
- Help children and their caregivers make better food choices, by making nutritious food more affordable, available and desirable.
- Influence and improve regulations that impact children’s diets.
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