Nutrition in the Lancet

The Lancet was founded in 1823 and has strived to make science widely available to positively impact the lives of people. The core belief of its family of renowned medical journals aim to serve society and helps ensure that the best science leads to better lives. A number of key publications based on conclusions from international collaborations of investigators have formed the basis of evidence for many nutrition related efforts across the SUN Movement.

More than a third of child deaths and 11% of the total disease burden worldwide are due to maternal and child undernutrition. These and other stark findings are the conclusions of an international collaboration of investigators published as part of The Lancet’s 2008 Maternal and Child Undernutrition Series. This series sparked the conversations which led to the birth of the SUN Movement.

Learn more about the 2008 series

Five years after the initial series, the problems of maternal and child undernutrition were re-evaluated. This series identifies the growing problems of overweight and obesity for women and children, and their consequences in low-income and middle-income countries. Many of these countries are said to have the double burden of malnutrition: continued stunting of growth and deficiencies of essential nutrients along with the emerging issue of obesity.

Learn more about the 2013 series

The Lancet Maternal and Child Nutrition Series - Executive Summary

The Series is the first of its kind to evaluate global breastfeeding levels, trends and inequalities, in addition to the short and long term consequences for both mother and child, regardless of where they live or their income. The Series underscores the importance of policy interventions to increase and sustain breastfeeding levels.

Paper 1: Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect

Paper 2: Why invest, and what it will take to improve breastfeeding practices?

The “Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale” Lancet Series considers new scientific evidence for interventions, building on the findings and recommendations of previous Lancet Series on child development (2007, 2011), and proposes pathways for implementation of early childhood development at scale. The Series reveals that properly-funded policies and programmes during the first 1000 days of a child’s life could help 250 million at-risk girls and boys. Those crucial 1000 days are when a child most needs development care including early learning, health, nutrition, play and security.

Early childhood development coming of age: science through the life course

Nurturing care: promoting early childhood development

Investing in the foundation of sustainable development: pathways to scale up for early childhood development

The Framework for Actions to Achieve Optimum Fetal and Child Nutrition and Development

Key definitions drawn from the Lancet include the definitions of nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions and programmes and the elements of an enabling environment. These can be found on the Framework for Actions to Achieve Optimum Fetal and Child Nutrition and Development.

The Lancet definition of nutrition-specific interventions and programmes

Nutrition-specific interventions and programmes address the immediate determinants of foetal and child nutrition and development – adequate food and nutrient intake, feeding, caregiving and parenting practices, and low burden of infectious diseases. Ten high-impact nutrition-specific interventions are identified in the framework.

The Lancet definition of nutrition-sensitive interventions and programmes

Nutrition-sensitive interventions and programmes address the underlying determinants of foetal and child nutrition and development – food security; adequate caregiving resources at the maternal, household and community levels; and access to health services and a safe and hygienic environment – and incorporate specific nutrition goals and actions. Nutrition-sensitive programmes can serve as delivery platforms for nutrition-specific interventions, potentially increasing their scale, coverage, and effectiveness.