Optima Nutrition

Undernutrition leads to approximately 159 million stunted children and three million (45 percent) child deaths per year.

There are six nutrition targets in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals:

  • A 40 percent reduction in the number of stunted children
  • A 50 percent reduction of anaemia in women of reproductive age
  • A 30 percent reduction in low birth weight
  • No increase in childhood overweight
  • An increase in exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months to above 50 percent
  • A reduction in childhood wasting to less than five percent.

Image: Optima Nutrition model

Optima Nutrition is an allocative efficiency model, which provides practical advice on how to allocate a limited budget across a range of nutrition-specific interventions to minimise stunting and mortality in children under five.

The model simulates children in a population from birth until five years of age who are classified according to breastfeeding practices, economic status and both height-for-age and weight-for-age status. Children in the model can die from a range of age- and risk-factor dependent causes, and are considered to be stunted if their height-for-age is below two standard deviations on the reference curve.

The model includes nutrition-specific interventions that directly or indirectly (e.g. through impact on diarrhoea incidence) target stunting:

  • multiple micronutrient supplementation and balanced energy protein supplementation for pregnant women
  • age-appropriate breastfeeding promotion
  • complementary feeding education
  • public provision of complementary foods, prophylactic zinc and vitamin A supplementation.

The current project involves expanding the initial model to include interventions such as:

  • prevention of anaemia and severe acute malnutrition (SAM) as outcomes
  • the impact of family planning
  • skilled birth attendance
  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) interventions
  • rotavirus vaccine, oral rehydration solution and zinc treatment for severe diarrhoea
  • the fortification of foods.


2016 - ongoing.


  • Dr Jolene Skordis
  • Dr Jakub Jan Kakietek
  • Dr Madhura Killedar
  • Dr Cliff Kerr
  • Dr Robyn Stuart
  • Kelsey Grantham
  • Optima Consortium for Decision Science
  • UCL
  • The World Bank


The World Bank

Contact Details

For any general enquiries relating to this project, please contact:

Doctor Nick Scott