Publications & Reports

Ending malnutrition in all its forms requires scaling up proven nutrition interventions and much more: a 129-country analysis.

Scott N, Delport D, Hainsworth S, Pearson R, Morgan C, Huang S, Akuoku JK, Piwoz E, Shekar M, Levin C, Toole M, Homer CS
Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Australia. [email protected]


BACKGROUND: Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2.2 calls for an end to all forms of malnutrition, with 2025 targets of a 40% reduction in stunting (relative to 2012), for wasting to occur in less than 5% of children, and for a 50% reduction in anaemia in women (15-49 years). We assessed the likelihood of countries reaching these targets by scaling up proven interventions and identified priority interventions, based on cost-effectiveness. METHODS: For 129 countries, the Optima Nutrition model was used to compare 2019-2030 nutrition outcomes between a status quo (maintained intervention coverage) scenario and a scenario where outcome-specific interventions were scaled up to 95% coverage over 5 years. The average cost-effectiveness of each intervention was calculated as it was added to an expanding package of interventions. RESULTS: Of the 129 countries modelled, 46 (36%), 66 (51%) and 0 (0%) were on track to achieve the stunting, wasting and anaemia targets respectively. Scaling up 18 nutrition interventions increased the number of countries reaching the SDG 2.2 targets to 50 (39%), 83 (64%) and 7 (5%) respectively. Intermittent preventative treatment of malaria during pregnancy (IPTp), infant and young child feeding education, vitamin A supplementation and lipid-based nutrition supplements for children produced 88% of the total impact on stunting, with average costs per case averted of US$103, US$267, US$556 and US$1795 when interventions were consecutively scaled up, respectively. Vitamin A supplementation and cash transfers produced 100% of the total global impact on prevention of wasting, with average costs per case averted of US$1989 and US$19,427, respectively. IPTp, iron and folic acid supplementation for non-pregnant women, and multiple micronutrient supplementation for pregnant women produced 85% of the total impact on anaemia prevalence, with average costs per case averted of US$9, US$35 and US$47, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Prioritising nutrition investment to the most cost-effective interventions within the country context can maximise the impact of funding. A greater focus on complementing nutrition-specific interventions with nutrition-sensitive ones that address the social determinants of health is critical to reach the SDG targets

Link to publisher’s web site.


  • Journal: BMC Medicine
  • Published: 13/11/2020
  • Volume: 18
  • Issue: 1
  • Pagination: 356