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According to the World Health Organization, undernutrition is linked to around 45% of deaths among children under five years of age. As a form of malnutrition, undernutrition includes wasting (low weight-for-height), stunting (low height-for-age) and being underweight (low weight-for-age).  Burnet researchers are working to understand factors contributing to poor nutrition and its association with other diseases.

Our main objective is to understand factors contributing to poor nutrition, including its associations with other diseases. 

In resource-poor regions globally, pregnant women experience high rates of undernutrition. Our work through the Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies flagship initiative aims to determine major preventable causes of factors like poor maternal health and low birth weight to enable the development of future interventions to improve health and pregnancy outcomes.

We are developing, testing and implementing evidence-based tools, interventions and strategies to:

  • reduce undernutrition of children under five, including stunting
  • address anaemia and other micronutrient deficiencies
  • improve postnatal and newborn care
  • improve the nutrition of adolescent girls.

Together, here are some of the ways we've made a positive impact in improving nutrition for people across the globe:

  • led the health component of a landmark multisector response to malnutrition in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) between 2017–2021. The European Union funded this action
  • reviewed a report written by Save The Children in 2017, which found that child undernutrition cost the economy of Papua New Guinea (PNG) up to $US1.5 billion in the 2015-16 financial year, representing 8.45 per cent of PNG’s gross domestic product
  • carried out an evaluation to inform the development of a nutrition policy for the Australian aid program, to guide the strategic approach of the aid program in addressing child undernutrition
  • provided a variety of health and nutrition services to women and young children in the Vilabouly District of Lao PDR between 2011–2015.

is the number of districts in Lao PDR targeted in the landmark multisector response to malnutrition in the country. Burnet led the health component with the aim of creating supportive conditions for enhanced household nutrition. 


is the number of pregnant women in PNG who participated in a longitudinal study by Burnet-supported researchers looking at the impact of nutrition, malaria and sexually transmitted infections on pregnant women and infants. 

1.3 million

children in Bangladesh who could live without stunting by 2030 if there were better targeting of investments in nutrition programming compared to the current resource allocation. This data was identified in modelling done by researchers supported by Burnet.


is the number of Papua New Guinean health workers who participated in a training workshop in March 2023 led by a Burnet researcher. The workshop aimed to build understanding of nutrition-related policies in PNG, train health workers on how to appropriately and adequately identify stunting, and create key nutrition activities based on their new understandings of their respective health facilities.

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Burnet is an Australian-based medical research and public health institute and international non-government organisation that is working towards a more equitable world through better health.