It is widely recognised that optimum nutrition is essential to the health and wellbeing of children and adolescence, as well as their cognitive and social development. Getting this right has tremendous economic impacts for communities and countries, and the welfare of subsequent generations. Intervention in the first 1,000 days is essential, but insufficient thus it has to be complemented with significant investment in health and nutrition in middle childhood and adolescence.

A particularly important determinant of nutrition is education. Education empowers individuals to access better jobs and income and make informed choices about their eating and health habits. Girls’ education is particularly important as the longer they stay in school, the less exposed they are to early pregnancies and the better able they are to secure a better future for themselves and their children. Research shows that mothers who have had quality secondary school education are likely to have significantly better nourished children. These findings are related to the fact that when women control income, they are more likely to invest it in the welfare of their family.

Promoting equitable access to education for women and men also helps address many of the underlying causes of malnutrition. The nutritional impact of interventions in the education sector can be enhanced by including nutrition education for girls and boys in the school curricula. Such activities are more effective if part of a comprehensive school nutrition strategy, including healthy school meals, the use of school gardens for practical learning, and provision of clean water. School feeding programmes have an additional advantage of encouraging school attendance. This can be particularly important for adolescent girls, as part of efforts to prevent precocious marriage and pregnancies that ultimately undermine their health and nutrition, and that of their children.

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Field Exchange - Issue 57

16/04/2018 - This is a general issue that features, for the second year running, a special section that shares key outputs of Action Against Hunger’s Research for Nutrition Conference held in November 2017. [...]

UNSCN Discussion Paper - Schools as a System to Improve Nutrition

05/10/2017 - Given the changing circumstances in the nutrition landscape, there is a need to reassess and reiterate the role of the schools in improving health and nutritional status of children. This discussion [...]

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