Improved nutrition for under-twos could save 100,000 lives each year: UNICEF

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A mother holds her child while eating a slice of watermelon in Niamey the capital of Niger. Photo: UNICEF/Giacomo Pirozzi

Five out of six children under two-years-old are not getting enough nutrition to support their growth and brain development, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) reports.

Improving nutrition for young children could save 100,000 lives a year, according to the agency, which on Friday released the second part of a report that maps infant and young child feeding practices globally.

Dianne Penn reports.

UNICEF says infants and young children have the greatest nutrient needs than at any other time in life.

However, delayed introduction of solid foods, infrequent meals and lack of food variety mean that millions of youngsters do not reach their full potential.

For example, half of children between six months and two-years-old are not being fed the minimum number of meals for their age thus putting them at risk of stunting.

The high cost of foods from animal sources has also made it hard for the poorest families to improve their children's diet.

UNICEF says making nutritious foods affordable and accessible for these children requires greater investments from governments and the private sector.

Action can include cash or in-kind transfers to vulnerable families and crop diversification programmes.

Community-based health services that support caregivers in better feeding practices are also vital, according to the UN agency.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’03″

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