The 2nd Japan-ASEAN Seminar: New Insights into Child Malnutrition and Stunting in Developing Countries

Date:September 12 (Mon.), 2016 16:00-18:00

Venue:Small-sized Room I, 3rd floor of Inamori Foudation Building, CSEAS

16:00-16:15 Opening remarks
Noboru Ishikawa Professor, Center for Southeast Asian Studeis, Kyoto University
Ryota Sakamoto Associate Professor, Center for Southeast Asian Studeis, Kyoto University

Richard D. Semba, M.D., M.P.H. W. Richard Green Professor, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, Maryland, USA

“New Insights into Child Malnutrition and Stunting in Developing Countries”

Stunting affects about one-quarter of children under the age of five worldwide. Stunting, or failure to grow tall, is considered the best indicator of chronic malnutrition in children. In 2014, there were ~159 million children who were stunted, and nearly all of them were found in developing countries. Stunting is considered such an important public health problem that it is designated as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #2: to reduce stunting by 40% by the year 2025. Children who are stunted by age 24 months are at higher risk of morbidity and mortality, impaired cognitive and motor development, and reduced economic productivity, have a higher chance of living in poverty in adulthood and a higher risk of diabetes and obesity. Efforts over the last four decades to reduce child stunting through micronutrient or lipid-based supplements have had little to no effect. One of main contributors to child stunting is a condition known as environment enteric dysfunction (EED). EED is characterized by chronic inflammation in the small intestine and increased gut permeability. There is no known intervention that has been shown to reduce EED and improve growth in young children. Recent studies show that stunted children have serum concentrations of all nine essential amino acids that are 15-20% lower than children who are not stunted. The richest sources of essential amino acids are animal-source foods, which are often beyond the reach of poor families in developing countries. In addition, stunted children had significantly lower serum concentrations of choline, another essential nutrient for growth that is primarily found in animal foods such as eggs. These studies suggest that new approaches must be taken to ensure that infants and young children in developing countries receive all essential nutrients in their diet, including micronutrients, essential amino acids, and choline. The reduction of child stunting remains one of the greatest challenges in global health today.

General Discussion