Seeking to transform the systems that perpetuate malnutrition and poverty.

What.

MotherFood International aims to break the cycle of malnutrition and poverty by focusing on the nutritional needs of women and their power to transform the food system for good health.

The scale of the deepening nutritious crisis is staggering. Six of the top nine risk factors to global health are now related to diet. The risk that poor diets pose to mortality and morbidity is now greater than the risks of air pollution, alcohol, drug and tobacco use combined. .

 
 

The number of people that currently experience hunger on a daily basis has increased to 815 million. More than 2 billion people lack vital micronutrients (e.g. iron, zinc, vitamin A) affecting health and life expectancy, and over 50% of pregnant women in high burden countries are malnourished, leading to unacceptably high rates of anemia and mortality. Last year, nearly half of the deaths of preschool children worldwide were attributed to undernutrition, and of those that survived, an estimated 150 million are stunted, significantly limiting their cognitive development, health and potential lifelong earnings. The prevalence of overweight and obesity and associated non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – e.g. Type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease – are increasing in every region, and most rapidly in low- and middle-income countries. Malnutrition in all its forms - including under-nutrition, overweight and obesity and vitamin and mineral deficiencies - already affects one in three people worldwide. If population growth and climate change increase as predicted, this will rise to one in two by 2030.

 

815

MILLION people

currently experience hunger on a daily basis

<2

BILLION people

lack vital micronutrients, affecting health and life expectancy.

<50%

of pregnant women

in high burden countries are malnourished.

 

Good nutrition is the foundation for good health for all people, but is especially important for women. The nutrient and energy needs of girls and women are important for growth, for healthy development and maturation during adolescence, during pregnancy and when breastfeeding, and as women get older. But in addition to affecting their own health, it also influences the health of their children and future generations, resulting in economic, humanitarian, and health consequences impacting the whole of society.

Children born to poorly nourished women are more likely to have cognitive and physical growth impairments and be at higher risk of nutrition-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) throughout their lives—in turn, passing these risks to their own children. Understanding the science behind this intergenerational effect has revolutionized our thinking: We now know that the preconception period in women of reproductive age is a critical time for setting the stage for optimal development of the future fetus, infant and child, and indeed, of future generations. But these benefits can’t be realised unless women are empowered.

The evidence is conclusive: When women’s incomes and status level rise, more investment is seen in the nutritional, educational, and the health outcomes of families, causing a ripple effect that benefits entire communities. Studies have shown that between 1970 and 1995, more than half of stunting reductions were attributable to the increased status of women caregivers (Smith and Haddad, 2000). Other studies have found that women's discretionary income has greater impact on child nutrition and food security than income of men (Smith et al., 2003; UNICEF, 2011). This evidence offers an opportunity to break the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition and NCDs by focusing on maternal nutrition as part of a life-course approach, ideally beginning in the adolescent years before women become pregnant, and creating opportunities that empower women to take action.