Ten2Twenty: adolescent nutrition

Adolescence with its rapid growth and maturation provides a unique window of opportunity to address nutritional problems highly prevalent among female adolescents in LMICs, particularly in South Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. However, most nutrition interventions are focussed around the 1,000 days of a child life, leaving adolescents, and especially girls, behind.

Investing in nutrition is seen vital to improve an adolescent girl’s health and development outcomes, and that of their offspring. However, limited knowledge on food choices including dietary intake and nutrient gaps, as well as type, timing and efficacy of needed interventions hampers progress. During the transition to adulthood, girls’ nutritional trajectories (e.g. nutritional status, dietary intake) are interwoven with social and economic trajectories including education, family formation and labour participation. Trajectories are influenced by the household and immediate context, including that of the food system and socio-cultural setting. Although research evidence in this area is still scant, malnutrition, early marriage and pregnancy, low school participation and unequal labour opportunities are common problems during girls’ transition into adulthood. Many girls are disadvantaged in these life domains, often resulting from underlying mechanisms that appear to be highly gendered, such as skewed food and resource allocation within households, a lack of empowerment, and deeply rooted adverse cultural and traditional practices.

The Ten2Twenty research programme therefore aims to examine the interrelations, synergies as well as trade-offs between context-specific nutritional, social and economic trajectories of optimizing nutrition of Filipino, Nepali, Mexican and Ghanaian adolescent girls for better health, family formation, education and labour participation.

More research: International maternal and child nutrition