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Feeding Girl Power: Improving Diet and Eating Practices of Adolescent Girls

adolescent girl smiling into camera

Good eating practices among adolescent girls and young women are a critical component of good nutrition in the First 1,000 Days. Recognizing the importance of focusing on this key population, SPRING is partnering with nutrition leaders to push the agenda forward on improved diets and eating practices among this group.

The 2013 Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition provided new evidence on the importance of women’s nutrition at the time of conception and during pregnancy. The series also identified adolescent girls as a key priority, placing them together with women of reproductive age and mothers at the center of nutrition interventions. Given sufficient opportunity, including access to education and work, adolescent girls can become key contributors to the social and economic advancement of their countries. Good nutrition is fundamental to school achievement and productivity in the home and workplace.

Despite the recognized importance of adolescent girls’ and women’s nutrition for their health and that of their children, this group is virtually neglected in nutrition programming, with the exception of provision of iron and folic acid supplements during pregnancy. Over 15 years ago, the development of a set of guiding principles for complementary feeding of the breastfed child and guiding principles for feeding non-breastfed children 6-24 months of age helped to set the stage for improved young child nutrition programming. The development of a set of recommendations for key diet and eating practices for adolescent girls, women of reproductive age, and mothers is needed to rapidly expand nutrition programming for this target group.

As an important first step in this process, SPRING, PAHO/WHO, USAID and FANTA are co-hosting a technical meeting in March 2015 in Washington DC to bring together global leaders in adolescent girls and/or women’s nutrition. The objectives are to review insights and lessons learned from two discussion papers commissioned by SPRING around adolescent girls’, women’s and maternal nutrition; identify characteristics and issues related to key diet and eating practices for strengthening policies and programs; and propose next steps in the development of a set of recommendations for key diet and eating practices.

For more information about this meeting and its outcomes, sign up for e-updates from SPRING.