Childhood wasting and stunting affect large numbers of children globally. Both are important risk factors for illness and death yet, despite the fact that these conditions can share common risk factors and are often seen in the same child, they are commonly portrayed as relatively distinct manifestations of undernutrition. In 2014, the Wasting and Stunting project was launched by the Emergency Nutrition Network. Its aim was to better understand the complex relationship and associations between wasting and stunting and examine whether current separations that were apparent in approaches to policy, financing, and programs were justified or useful. Based on the project's work, this article aims to bring a wasting and stunting lens to how research is designed and financed in order for the nutrition community to better understand, prevent, and treat child undernutrition. Discussion of lessons learnt focuses on the synergy and temporal relationships between children's weight loss and linear growth faltering, the proximal and distal factors that drive diverse forms of undernutrition, and identifying and targeting people most at risk. Supporting progress in all these areas requires research collaborations across interest groups that highlight the value of research that moves beyond a focus on single forms of undernutrition, and ensures that there is equal attention given to wasting as to other forms of malnutrition, wherever it is present.
- child nutrition
- concurrent wasting and stunting
- mortality risk
- research design