Good nutrition, especially in the window of development opportunity (from conception to 24 months), is essential to capitalize full intellectual capacity, educational performance, and productivity. Improving nutrition is critical for maternal and child health outcomes, a driver of economic growth and poverty reduction, and central to development. Addressing the direct and underlying causes of poor nutrition is critical for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and overall development objectives.
To inform national strategies and action plans to improve nutrition in women and children, the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Program provides population level estimates of key nutrition indicators.
The Nutrition Update 2010 provides information on nutritional status, anemia status, breastfeeding, introduction of solid, semi-solid or soft foods, minimum dietary diversity, minimum meal frequency, minimum acceptable diet, women’s dietary diversity, and micronutrient supplementation among pregnant and post-partum women and infant and young children (less than five years). Except for reported data about Guatemala (which comes from the 2008-09 ENSMI, an RHS survey), the study summarizes data from the results of DHS surveys done in 35 countries between 2003 and 2009 in sub-Saharan Africa, South/Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The majority of these countries are among those identified in the 2008 Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Health as having the greatest burden of undernutrition. All the data presented in this document were re-run for comparative purposes. Hence, some numbers in the report might not exactly match the DHS final country reports.