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Month: March 2021

New MyPlate Resources for Healthy Eating During the First 1,000 Days

In December, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) released the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 – 2025, which for the first time ever included nutrition advice for women and children throughout the 1,000-day window from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday.

A few days later, 1,000 Days joined USDA as a MyPlate National Strategic Partner. In this capacity, we are working together with USDA to disseminate key messages from the Dietary Guidelines. At 1,000 Days, we know that nutrition is critical to the health and well-being of moms and babies. In addition to our work advocating for policies and programs that ensure families can access nutritious foods, 1,000 Days is pleased to join USDA in equipping families with the information they need to have a healthy first 1,000 days and beyond.

New Resources for Healthy Eating

As we wrote previously, the newest edition of the Dietary Guidelines includes specific recommendations for infants, toddlers, and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Families can find resources for good nutrition during each of these life stages on the MyPlate website:

Using the new MyPlate Plan tool, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding (and their families) can get a personalized food plan for healthy eating. The MyPlate Plan shows food group targets, including what and how much to eat, based on an individual’s age, sex, height, weight, physical activity level, and pregnancy/breastfeeding status. MyPlate Plan is available in both English and Spanish:

For more resources and tips about healthy eating during the first 1,000 days, visit MyPlate.gov.

What We’re Working On: Our Advocacy Agenda for Nutrition in the First 1,000 Days

This National Nutrition Month, 1,000 Days is spotlighting the connection between nutrition and COVID-19 through our annual #March4Nutrition campaign. Over the last few weeks, we have explored the importance of nutrition for building immunity and resilience as well as the impact of COVID-19 on women and young children in the U.S. and around the world.

This week is all about solutions. We are featuring the advocacy actions 1,000 Days is pursuing to support women and children in their 1,000-day window during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Programs and policies that prioritize the health and nutrition of moms and babies can significantly improve outcomes for young children and their families. Providing moms and babies with the right supports – including access to healthy foods, family and workplace supports to reach their breastfeeding goals, and health services – sets them up for success for the rest of their lives.

For the nutrition and health of moms and babies everywhere, we urge the United States Government to support an immediate rollout of the Power 4, a targeted set of preventative and curative nutrition interventions that can save lives now:

  1. Supplying all pregnant women with prenatal vitamins;
  2. Supporting breastfeeding mothers;
  3. Continuing large-scale vitamin A supplementation; and
  4. Providing lifesaving therapeutic foods to wasted children.

The U.S. Government must also address malnutrition as a central pillar of our global COVID-19 response strategy.

To ensure the health and well-being of families here in the United States, we call for continued, robust investment in the policies and programs that moms and babies rely on to access nutrition, care, and support during the first 1,000 Days:

  • Increased funding and flexibility for federal nutrition programs, including WIC, SNAP and CACFP
  • Guaranteed access to paid sick days and paid family and medical leave
  • Access to quality, comprehensive, and affordable healthcare before, during, and after pregnancy and for all infants and toddlers

Throughout all of these efforts, we must maintain a particular aim to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes and food security.

This #March4Nutrition, as our nation and our world build back from the pandemic and look toward the future, now is our opportunity to invest in the world we all want to see: a world where moms, babies, and their families are healthy and thriving during the first 1,000 days and beyond. Here at 1,000 Days, this is what we fight for every day.

New Data on Excess Weight in US Infants and Toddlers

In December 2020, the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics released a brief on excess weight in U.S. infants and toddlers over the last several decades. Since a low point in 2011-2012, rates of weight excess in infants and toddlers under 2 years of age have been climbing. According to the most recent data in 2017-2018, about 1 in 10 U.S. infants and toddlers is overweight.

Excess weight in this age group is measured based on weight-per-recumbent length, defined as either >95th percentile on the CDC sex-specific growth charts or >97.7th percentile on the WHO sex-specific growth standards. Data were drawn from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), which sample the civilian non-institutionalized U.S.population.

The 1,000-day window from a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday sets the foundation for all of the days that follow. Overweight infants and toddlers are at risk for staying overweight into adolescence and adulthood, but the early-life period may be the optimal time to intervene (source).

1,000 Days continues to support programs and policies such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which helps families achieve healthy diets to change the trajectory of their children’s health. A revision to the WIC food package in 2009 was associated with reduced early childhood obesity risk, especially among breastfed infants but also among formula-fed infants (source). This as well as other programs designed to counteract rapid early-life weight gain could have lasting impacts that protect against obesity and ensure all moms and babies can access the nutrition they need to thrive.

#March4Nutrition in the United States: The Impact of COVID on Nutrition in the First 1,000 Days

This National Nutrition Month, 1,000 Days is highlighting the connection between nutrition and COVID-19 through our annual #March4Nutrition campaign. All month long, we invite you to follow #March4Nutrition on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

This week, we are calling attention to the impact of the pandemic on the health of women and young children in the United States. We will spotlight the challenges many families are facing as well as innovations and critical supports that are making a difference.

The current health and economic crises have been especially difficult for women, including those in the 1,000-day window. Pregnant women are at increased risk of developing serious illness or dying as a result of COVID-19, and physical distancing restrictions are in some ways reshaping the experience of prenatal care, birth, and the postpartum period. Meanwhile, 2.5 million women have been pushed out of the workforce since the beginning of the pandemic. COVID-19 has further entrenched racial, economic, and health inequities, leaving more families food insecure and without access to the quality healthcare they need to stay healthy and safe.

The 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday set the foundation for all those that follow, and healthy moms and babies are the foundation of a healthy society. Now more than ever, our nation’s families must have access to emergency paid sick days and paid leave provisions to care for themselves and their loved ones and help women meet their breastfeeding goals. Low- and moderate-income families must have access to quality and affordable healthcare. And vital nutrition programs like WIC and SNAP must have increased funding and flexibility to best meet the needs of the families who rely on them.

All across the country, programs have been adapting to the COVID-19 crisis to continue enabling families to access the nutrition, support, and care they need to be healthy. When the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provided critical flexibilities to the WIC program, WIC agencies quickly transitioned from in-person to remote enrollment and issuance of benefits. This provides a critical lifeline for women like Victoria, a WIC client who wrote:

“Thank you for making it easy and safe to sign up for the program in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. My husband and I were not planning to need services like this, but when he got laid off, it was wonderful to know we have WIC to fall back on.”

Innovations like this – as well as the provisions for paid leave that were included in pandemic relief legislation – must continue on after the pandemic. Families depend on these supports to have the healthiest first 1,000 days.

U.S. #March4Nutrition Twitter Chat – The Impact of COVID on Nutrition

Overview:

March is both the one-year anniversary of when COVID-19 was officially announced as a global pandemic by WHO and National Nutrition Month in the United States. We know that immunity and nutrition are linked: good nutrition strengthens the immunity and overall health of moms, babies, families, and societies. Ensuring families have access to nutrition during the 1,000-day window is a key way to build resilience to future pandemics.

As part of our annual #March4Nutrition campaign, we are hosting a Twitter chat from the @1000Days account on the impact of COVID on the nutrition and health of moms and babies in the United States during the first 1,000 days. We hope you can join us!

 Host: @1000Days

When: Friday, March 19 at 11am ET

Primary Hashtag: #March4Nutrition

Important Reminders:

  • All tweets must include the #March4Nutrition hashtag to be part of the Twitter chat stream.
  • Retweet questions that you are responding to, so your followers can follow the conversation even if they’re not following the chat.
  • Responses should include the question number you are referencing (A1, A2, etc.)

Promo for participating partners:  

  • We’re excited to be participating in @1000Days’s #March4Nutrition Twitter chat on the impact of COVID on #nutrition for moms and babies in the U.S. during the first 1,000 days. Join us!

Script:

Q1: Nutrition plays a key role in keeping families and communities healthy and strong. How has #COVID19 affected the #nutrition and health of moms, babies, and their families in the U.S.? #March4Nutrition

Q2: The pandemic has hit some families harder than others. How has #COVID19 exacerbated existing disparities and inequities in access to #nutrition for moms and babies in the U.S.? #March4Nutrition

Q3: Why is it especially important for #COVID19 policy responses to focus on the needs of women and young children? #March4Nutrition

Q4: Now more than ever, our nation’s families must have access to the nutrition supports they need to be healthy. How has the Biden Administration’s #COVID19 relief package improved access to #nutrition for moms and babies? #March4Nutrition

Q5: What supports do families still need to access nutritious foods for a healthy #first1000days and beyond? #March4Nutrition

Q6: All across the country, programs have adapted to the #COVID19 crisis helping families continue to access the #nutrition they need to be healthy. Share examples of innovations you would like to see keep going after the pandemic ends. #March4Nutrition

Statement on Passage and Signing of the American Rescue Plan Act

The monumental bill signed into law today is the beginning of much-needed relief for families across the country. All of us at 1,000 Days applaud the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act and were pleased to see President Joe Biden sign the bill into law this afternoon. Every day we work to ensure that women and children in the United States and around the world can have a healthy first 1,000 days, and we know that the coronavirus pandemic has posed an incredible threat to the health and wellbeing of families everywhere.

This important law will dramatically advance a number of 1,000 Days’ key priorities, taking important steps to combat food insecurity, improve maternal health outcomes, invest in global health programming, address child poverty and protect families’ financial security.

The American Rescue Plan Act will:

  • Fund vaccine production and distribution efforts;
  • Invest $800 million in WIC, increasing the cash value benefit available to families and improving outreach and program administration;
  • Extend the 15% increase in individual monthly SNAP benefits through September 2021;
  • Increase the Child Tax Credit, so that families with children under the age of 6 receive $3,600 a year, and make the credit fully refundable, reducing child poverty in the United States by nearly half;
  • Send $1,400 checks to adults and children up to a certain income threshold, ensuring many families do not fall into poverty under the strain of the pandemic;
  • Invest vital funds in USAID’s Bureau for Global Health to address the effects of COVID-19 around the world;
  • Provide states the opportunity to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 1 year, an important step in addressing racial and ethnic health disparities in maternal health outcomes;
  • Incentivize state Medicaid expansion and subsidize health coverage through COBRA or plans purchased on the ACA marketplace, making health care more affordable for American families;
  • And much, much more.

Our work is not done until every family has the opportunity to grow up healthy and live a long, full life. 1,000 Days will continue to work with our partners and champions in Congress to fight for a comprehensive, universal paid family and medical leave program, to ensure families can stay healthy and financially secure, whether during a personal health emergency or a public health emergency. We will encourage robust investment in USAID nutrition programs in order to stave off disastrous second-order effects of the pandemic, which threaten to undo decades of progress on maternal, infant and young child nutrition. And we will work to build on the momentum created by this important legislation, to ensure that the wellbeing of moms and babies is a policy and funding priority, long after the end of this crisis.

Blythe Thomas
Initiative Director
1,000 Days, an Initiative of FHI Solutions

#March4Nutrition Around the World: The Impact of COVID on Nutrition in the First 1,000 Days

In honor of National Nutrition Month, 1,000 Days launched our annual #March4Nutrition campaign last week to highlight the connection between COVID-19 and nutrition. All month long, we invite you to follow #March4Nutrition on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

This week, we are shining a spotlight on how the pandemic affects the health of women and children in their first 1,000 days around the globe. We will cover the threats as well as the solutions and some hopeful innovations we have seen.

COVID-19-related disruptions to food and health systems are causing rates of severe malnutrition to rise substantially. In many parts of the world, malnutrition related to the pandemic is projected to kill more people than the pandemic itself.

Women and children in the first 1,000 days are especially vulnerable. Women are traditionally caregivers in many societies, make up a large portion of front-line health care workers, and often eat last and have the least choice, especially in times of crisis or when emergency strikes. Meanwhile, poor nutrition during the first 1,000 days harms a baby’s growth and development, affecting her ability to do well in school and earn a good living in the future – factors that influence recovery from disease and economic shocks.

Addressing malnutrition must be a central pillar in any global COVID-19 response strategy. In addition to supporting the capacity of developing countries to respond to the pandemic, we must ensure that nutrition remains a top priority in health systems strengthening to protect our progress in reducing maternal and child mortality. This includes scaling up programs that protect, promote, and support early and exclusive breastfeeding and age-appropriate and safe complementary foods and feeding practices. This also includes ensuring everyone has sufficient access to nutritious food – particularly those in vulnerable groups and those who are now considered vulnerable due to COVID-19.

In particular, there are four essential, life-saving nutrition interventions that can be deployed today to immediately reduce the number of child deaths and disabilities caused by the pandemic:

  • Treat children who are dying with life-saving therapeutic foods.
  • Prevent malnutrition in children through actions like ensuring mothers have access to the prenatal vitamins they need.
  • Continue large-scale vitamin A supplementation for children.
  • Support breastfeeding mothers.

Nutrition programs around the world are adapting in innovative ways to continue providing these essential services despite the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Alive & Thrive has navigated physical distancing protocols by using text messaging, e-learning, social media, and other mobile platforms to deliver nutrition education on topics like diet diversity and breastfeeding.

Well-nourished women and girls help create prosperous futures and resiliency for us all. As governments continue to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, multi-sectoral nutrition and food security programs must be safeguarded to protect children and families vulnerable to malnutrition. Not only do we want to prevent a protracted nutrition crisis, but nutrition itself will play a role in recovery to help increase immunity/resiliency. We must ensure all people are nourished in ways that secure their health and resilience today, tomorrow, and into the future.

The Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Undernutrition Progress

On March 8, The Lancet published the latest Series on Maternal and Child Undernutrition, including three new papers that build upon findings from the previous 2008 and 2013 Series, which established an evidence-based global agenda for tackling undernutrition over the past decade.

The papers conclude that despite modest progress in some areas, maternal and child undernutrition remains a major global health concern, particularly as recent gains may be offset by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Series reiterates that previously highlighted interventions continue to be effective at reducing stunting, micronutrient deficiencies, and child deaths and emphasizes the importance of delivering these nutrition interventions within the first 1,000 days of life.

The authors conclude the Series with a global call to action to recommit to the unfinished agenda of maternal and child undernutrition.

The Series serves as an important milestone moment to reinvigorate the nutrition community and re-energize champions to propel the nutrition agenda forward into 2021, the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Year of Action, a roadmap of key events throughout the year. The Year of Action will culminate in the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021 and the Tokyo N4G Summit in December 2021.

The following resources are available to advocates, nutrition champions and anyone who is ready to take action:

Why Tackling Malnutrition Matters for Women’s Empowerment

This blog was originally published by the Global Nutrition Report.

By: Emma Feutl-Kent, Global Policy & Advocacy Manager, 1,000 Days and Atalanti Moquette, Founder of Giving Women

How are malnutrition and women’s health, education, and economic participation connected? And why is nutrition so central to women’s empowerment?

Addressing malnutrition in women is essential to mitigating the impacts of Covid-19 and creating conditions that enable women’s empowerment. International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to reflect on progress made to date in the struggle for women’s rights as well as the challenges that still need to be addressed to promote gender equality.

This blog explains why investing in nutrition is a vital, yet underutilised, tool in the struggle for women and girls’ empowerment.

Malnutrition in women is being worsened by the impacts of Covid-19

Before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, Dulali Begum had established a thriving poultry business in Bangladesh, securing a steady income for her family. After Covid-19 spread to her community, Dulali was eventually forced to sell her business at a loss, leaving her unable to afford enough food. Thousands of miles away in New Orleans, fear of exposure to Covid-19 has kept Chrishana Simon off buses and forced her to turn to the only foods available within walking distance – processed and canned foods that don’t provide enough nutrients for her or her family.

Around the world, countless women could tell similar stories. The Covid-19 virus itself has been especially deadly to men. But women have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s long-lasting and deadly knock-on effects. This is especially so when it comes to the rapid global increase in hunger and malnutrition over the last year.

The growing number of people experiencing food and nutrition insecurity is likely to exacerbate the already large gender gap in rates of malnutrition. Even before the pandemic, women and girls faced multiple obstacles that prevented them from accessing healthy, nutritious food. These factors contribute to women being 9.3% more likely to be underweight and 36% more likely to be obese than men – a gap which is widening for both underweight and obesity. Now, as food insecurity worsens across the globe, women and girls are at increased risk of hunger and malnutrition, often eating last and least in their households when food is scarce.

Disruptions to food and health systems because of Covid-19 are causing rates of malnutrition to rise substantially. By the end of 2020, severe food insecurity will have risen by 82% compared to pre-Covid numbers and in many parts of the world, malnutrition will kill more people than the Covid-19 virus itself. Women are disproportionately at risk.

Women’s empowerment can’t be achieved without addressing malnutrition

The Covid-related spike in food insecurity for women and girls is especially significant because good nutrition is not only a fundamental right, but also a key tool in the struggle for women and girls’ empowerment.

The positive effects of access to good nutrition, especially in the first 1,000 days of life, pay dividends to both individuals and society. While gender equality and women’s empowerment are associated with improved child nutrition, early childhood nutrition also contributes to a generation of strong and healthy women.

Three ways in which nutrition promotes gender equality

  1. Improved health outcomes
    Good nutrition can protect girls even before they are born. Well-nourished infants and toddlers catch fewer and less serious cases of diarrhoea, malaria, pneumonia, and a host of other diseases. As they grow, they are less vulnerable to obesity and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes. Good nutrition is also key to healthy pregnancies and reproductive health. Women who are well nourished during pregnancy are far less likely to join the 810 women who die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every day, and more likely to give birth to children who will thrive.
  2. Increased attainment in education
    Access to good nutrition allows girls’ brains to develop fully and impacts how well women and girls can perform in school. The physiological impact of nutrition is astronomical – children who remain well-nourished have up to an 18-point higher IQ than their malnourished peers. Girls who are well-nourished do better in school and stay in school longer, which can lead to them marrying later, having fewer children and increasing their earning potential.
  3. Greater economic participation
    Malnutrition has a huge impact on a woman’s employment prospects. For example, children who are well nourished are 33% more likely to escape poverty as adults, while anaemia, a condition that overwhelmingly impacts women, reduces women’s physical and mental capacity to perform their work. Malnourished girls also tend to complete less school, which places barriers on their ability to obtain high-paying jobs. Small interventions such as supplying pregnant women with prenatal vitamins, can make a huge difference to their financial security and economic empowerment.

What needs to change to support the struggle for gender equality and deal with the impacts of Covid-19?

Better nutrition is a cost-effective way to provide women with important tools to support their efforts to claim equal rights. Positive steps in this direction are already being taken with a growing number of countries adopting feminist foreign policy agendas and advocates calling for feminist Covid-19 response plans.

Now we must ensure that these agendas and responses put good nutrition for women and girls front and centre. Not doing so will dramatically increase the death toll from the pandemic and set a generation of women up for poor health, stunted cognitive development, and lower earning potential.

2021 is a key year for nutrition. The Year of Action on nutrition will culminate in the December Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit. This offers a chance for governments and other key stakeholders to come to the stage and show the world that they are committed to nutrition – and to the futures of women and girls everywhere.

Now more than ever, nutrition interventions are critical to making concrete and long-lasting improvements to the status of women and girls around the world. We all have a role to play in encouraging our governments, companies, civil society and multilateral organisations to commit to improving nutrition. A generation of women depends on it.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors alone and do not represent the official position of the Global Nutrition Report or associated individuals, institutions and organisations, unless explicitly stated.

Read 1,000 Days’ report, Nourishing Gender Equality: How Nutrition Interventions are an Underleveraged Tool in the Fight for Women’s Rights, to find out more.

This blog was also published as an op-ed on Sci Dev Net.

Global #March4Nutrition Twitter Chat – The Impact of COVID on Nutrition

Overview:

March is both the one-year anniversary of when COVID-19 was officially announced a global pandemic by WHO and national nutrition month in the United States. We know that immunity and nutrition are linked – good nutrition strengthens the immunity and overall health of moms, babies, families, and societies. Improving nutritional status during the 1,000-day window around the world is a key way to build resilience to future pandemics.

As part of an annual #March4Nutrition campaign, we are co-hosting a Twitter chat with Alive & Thrive from the @1000Days account on the global impact of COVID on nutrition in the first 1,000 days. We hope you can join us!

Host: @1000Days (the Twitter chat questions will be sent from this account)

Co-host: @aliveandthrive

When: Friday, March 12 @ 9am ET

Primary Hashtag: #March4Nutrition

Secondary Hashtags: #InvestInNutrition

Important Reminders:

  • All tweets must include the #March4Nutrition hashtag to be part of the Twitter chat stream.
  • Retweet questions that you are responding to, so your followers can follow the conversation even if they’re not following the chat.
  • Responses should include the question number you are referencing (A1, A2, etc.)

Promo for participating partners:  

  • We’re excited to be participating in @aliveandthrive & @1000Days’s #March4Nutrition Twitter chat on the impact of COVID on #nutrition in the first 1,000 days. Join us!

Script:

Q1: We’ll start at the beginning – how are #COVID19 and #nutrition linked? #March4Nutrition

Q2: What do recent estimates tell us about the threat of the pandemic on rates of #malnutrition? How has #COVID19 disrupted #nutrition service delivery? #March4Nutrition

Q3: Why is it especially important to focus a pandemic response on the health of women & children in the 1,000-day window? #March4Nutrition

Q4: To address all forms of malnutrition, nutrition-smart solutions must be a central pillar in any #COVID19 response strategy. How are you/your organization linking these solutions across relevant sectors? #March4Nutrition

Q5: Malnutrition is a major threat to the health & wellbeing of many children around the world, but it is a problem for which there are numerous, cost-effective solutions. Share examples of those solutions. #March4Nutrition

Q6: Despite facing multiple urgent challenges, the nutrition sector has worked to innovate in the time of #COVID19. What innovations have you implemented or organized around? #March4Nutrition

Q7: Governments and policymakers play a key role in protecting health. How have #COVID19 responses prioritized #nutrition – and how can policies be strengthened? #March4Nutrition

Q8: The time to act on nutrition is now. Explain why investing in #nutrition builds resilient communities. #March4Nutrition