THE FAMILY MEAL – 1000 DAYS – A WINDOW TO ANOTHER WORLD
In the life of a child, nutrition during the first 1,000 days – from a mother’s pregnancy to the child’s second birthday – can mean the difference between a promising future or one plagued by poor health and stunted physical and mental growth.
This 1,000-day window determines the course of a child’s life, the shape and future of their families and communities, as well as the stability and prosperity of our planet.
Given their specific needs and high level of vulnerability, children under two need more than the family meal to grow and develop to their full potential.
As well as additional meals prepared specifically for them, children under two also need health care and a clean environment.
Around the world, roughly half of all child deaths can be attributed to undernutrition.
Every year, 3.1 million young children die around the world from undernutrition and related causes.
But these deaths are preventable. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is committed to ensuring all children receive the nutrition they need during their first 1,000 days.
Last year, funding from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) helped WFP provide special nutritional support to four million children under the age of two, and three million women.
To prevent undernutrition, WFP advises mothers to breastfeed their children up to the age of two, and exclusively during the first six months. A big challenge to raising awareness about breastfeeding is that WFP’s advice sometimes contradicts traditional practices.
Nutrition is not just food: a weak body means a weaker immune system. Malnourished children are more prone to diseases such as diarrhoea, measles and malaria, which in turn worsen malnutrition.
Thus, to prevent and treat undernutrition effectively, other problems must be tackled, such as poor access to basic health services.