For millions of children in Eastern and Southern Africa and South Asia, current diets do not contain enough nutrients for proper growth and development. This is a tragedy. New evidence has recently been published that sheds light on the nutrient gaps experienced by young children in 14 countries in these regions and examines which foods might be affordably used to fill them. This briefing paper highlights the key findings from this research.
In both regions, the most common vitamin and mineral shortfalls in young children’s diets are in iron, vitamin A, zinc, folate, vitamin B12, and calcium. Many nutritious foods containing high amounts of these nutrients are available in countries within these regions, including liver, small fish, beef or goat meat, eggs, and dark green leafy vegetables. The affordability of nutritious foods varies, with the most affordable sources being liver, small fish, dark green leafy vegetables, milk, and eggs. These results have important implications for policymakers and programme designers working to solve this urgent crisis of poor diets and undernutrition.