To identify entry points for nutrition interventions targeting adolescent girls in India, Indonesia and Pakistan.
Poor nutritional status is common amongst adolescent girls (age 15-19) across all three countries, with anaemia levels up to 56%, stunting up to 25% and other micronutrient deficiencies such as folic acid and zinc. There is however a lack of understanding of the underlying causes, potential interventions and entry points for interventions, targeting this specific age group. Literature reviews were completed for all three countries while a mapping of programs, interventions and entry points was carried out in Pakistan, secondary data analyses was done for India, and in Indonesia formative research was undertaken on behaviours and motivations related to nutrition and health.
Existing programs targeting adolescent girls are mainly addressing education, sexual and reproductive health or gender equity issues. Direct nutrition interventions are seldom included. Adolescent girls have only very basic knowledge of nutrition and display limited interest. Various social and cultural factors influence food consumption behaviours of adolescents such as body image, peers and social media.
Few programs address the nutrition problems of adolescent girls. Moreover, nutrition as a stand-alone intervention is not of interest to the target group. Where adolescents could be the agents of change for generations to come, the key challenge is to identify entry points which appeal to the aspirations and desires of this age group. Additional research is needed to better understand the causal factors and specifically drivers for behaviours, including underlying motivations and emotions