Children are not fed enough of the right foods at the right time, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), who is calling for ‘bolder actions’ and ‘greater accountability’ for kids’ diets.
Children’s health and nutrition is a popular research area. While a significant amount of attention to given to children in later years, UNICEF argues ‘very little’ is concentrated on early years: from six-months to two-years of age.
“It’s at this time, that without the right nutrients, children can have an irreversible impact on their development,” according to Marianne Clark-Hattingh, Deputy Director of UNICEF Brussels.
In the not-for-profit’s 2021 Child Nutrition Report, this age bracket is the point of focus as UNICEF seeks to identify the main barriers preventing caregivers from feeding young children nutritious, safe, and age-appropriate diets, as well as how food system transformation can help remove these barriers to better support caregivers and families.
The nutrients consumed during the six-months to two-years age bracket is crucial to a person’s overall health, throughout their entire lifetime.
During this one-and-a-half-year period, a child’s brain grows to 75% of its adult size. It is also during this time that more than one million new neural connections are formed every second, one’s height increases by 75%, and body weight quadruples. Children have ‘extremely high nutrient needs’ during this age bracket, stressed Clark-Hattingh at a recent European Food Forum (EFF) event. And due to children’s small stomach size, they require frequent and diverse meals. Food Navigator