Topic: Infant and Child Nutrition
Committee: World Health Organization (WHO)
Delegate: Rosalyn Li
The second goal of the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations is to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. Even though the first two years of a child’s life are particularly important, with proper nutrition having the ability to lower morbidity and mortality, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and foster better development overall, in many countries less than a fourth of infants meet the criteria for nutrition appropriate for their age. Undernutrition is associated with 2.7 million child deaths annually. Nearly half of all deaths in children under five years are attributable to undernutrition alone, since it increases the risk of dying from common infections, increases the frequency and severity of infections, and delays recovery. Benefits of proper infant and child nutrition have long term impacts on economic gains for individual families and at the national level. Since 2000, the global community has shown a decline in stunting, defined as low height relative to age, yet nearly 149 million children under five were stunted in 2018.
In 2008, the European Union (EU) Council of Agriculture Ministers implemented the School Fruit Scheme, a program to provide free fruit and vegetables to children in schools. In return, schools would teach children about healthy eating habits. The Scheme effects over 8 million children across 25 participating member states, with Germany as a major beneficiary. Free fruit has resulted in a statistically significant decrease in the consumption of unhealthy snacks. 97% of German schools had the objective of improving child nutrition, 94% had the goal of teaching healthy habits, 88% focused on reducing obesity, and 65% focused on reducing malnutrition. In addition to improving infant and child nutrition domestically, Germany has also helped other countries, such as Burundi. 56% of children under the age of five in Burundi are chronically malnourished. Germany then funded the World Vision Burundi to screen for malnourished children to help get them treatment.
One way to assure infant and child nutrition health is through breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is both beneficial for the mother and the child. Children who were breastfed are less likely to be overweight, perform better on intelligence tests, and breastfeeding is associated with higher income in adult life. Breastfeeding also helps mothers by reducing the risk of ovarian and breast cancer. Breast milk can provide half of a child’s energy needs between the ages of six and twelve months and reduces mortality among children who are malnourished. Breastfeeding can be promoted and taught through implementation of policies such as Maternity Protection Convention 183, allowing for a longer duration of leave and higher benefits for mothers and supportive health services with infant and child feeding counseling possibly in mother support groups and community-based health promotion and education activities. Inability to produce milk is very rare; it is estimated that it occurs in one to two per 10,000 mothers. HIV complicates breastfeeding, so antiretroviral therapy (ART), which greatly reduces the chance of HIV transmission, is recommended to pregnant women and mothers with HIV. For children who go to school, better nutrition in school lunches can both feed children and help them establish healthy food choices. Governments should require public school lunches to be nutritious and inform students the importance of nutrition. To increase the accessibility of healthy foods, governments should also provide subsidies for healthy and local foods to promote the local economies and healthy food choices of its people.
 “Nutrition.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 Oct. 2019, www.cdc.gov/nutrition/index.html.
 “Malnutrition in Children.” UNICEF DATA, 2019, https://data.unicef.org/topic/nutrition/malnutrition/.
 “Using Price Policies to Promote Healthier Diets.” World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, World Health Organization, 2015, www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/273662/Using-price-policies-to-promote-healthier-diets.pdf.
 “School Food Policy Country Factsheets.” European Commission, Ministry Of Health, 2011, https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/sites/jrcsh/files/jrc-school-food-policy-factsheet-germany_en.pdf.
 “Government of Germany Helps Fight against Malnutrition in Burundian Children.” World Vision, 21 Sept. 2017, www.wvi.org/burundi/article/government-germany-helps-fight-against-malnutrition-burundian-children.
 “Infant and Young Child Feeding.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 16 Feb. 2018, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/infant-and-young-child-feeding.
- Rosalyn Li