Read Our Latest Research in Nature Food Journal

The economic crisis and food and health system disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to exacerbate undernutrition in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The Standing Together for Nutrition Consortium, a collective group of nutrition, economic, food, and health system experts, developed pessimistic, moderate and optimistic scenarios for 2020–2022 and used modelling tools to estimate the impacts of pandemic-induced disruptions on child stunting, wasting and mortality, maternal anaemia and children born to women with a low body mass index (BMI) in 118 LMICs.

STFN also estimated the cost of six nutrition interventions to mitigate excess stunting and child mortality due to the pandemic and to maximize alive and non-stunted children, and used the human capital approach to estimate future productivity losses.

The findings revealed that by 2022, COVID-19-related disruptions could result in an additional 13.6 million wasted (severely malnourished) children, additional 3.6 million stunted children, and 283,000 additional deaths of children, with the most severe consequences for young children and their mothers. Economic losses attributed to childhood stunting and mortality translate to future productivity earnings of 44 billion USD.

The results of this publication show that Governments and donors must maintain nutrition as a priority, continue to support resilient systems and ensure the efficient use of new and existing resources.

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