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Global Hunger Event in London Urges Greater Action on Child Nutrition by 2016 Olympic Games

The 2012 Olympic Games in London featured more than two weeks of incredible athletic performances and true international sportsmanship, demonstrating in full force the tremendous feats that can be accomplished when athletes from around the world achieve their full potential.

As the Olympics drew to a close, United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron and Brazil’s Vice President Michel Temer hosted a Global Hunger Event to draw attention to the urgent need for the world to take action on the issue of undernutrition. There are 170 million children globally whose physical and cognitive potential is limited by undernutrition by the time they reach 2 years old. 

Undernutrition during the 1,000 days from pregnancy through a child’s second birthday can lead to irreversible stunting and have lifelong consequences, affecting physical health, performance in school, and even earnings over the long term. Nutrition interventions to prevent stunting are most effective in the critical 1,000 day window.

The Global Hunger Event that took place August 12, the day of the Olympic Closing Ceremonies, called on the world to step up efforts to improve nutrition and reduce the rate of stunting among the world’s poorest children between now and the next Olympic Games in 2016. A high-level meeting including representatives from international governments, charities, and businesses was convened at Downing Street to explore how scientific innovation, better accountability by governments, and greater cooperation between governments, civil society, and the private sector can all help tackle undernutrition and improve children’s life chances.  

Three new initiatives were announced following the meeting, including commitments from the United Kingdom Governmentto support the creation of drought-resistant and vitamin-enriched crops; from private sector companies to make nutritious food available and affordable for poor families; and from several nations to support efforts to improve government accountability across developing countries, and to pilot text messaging as a way to provide early warnings of areas where nutrition supplies are needed.

The meeting also highlighted the work of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement in tackling high levels of stunting. SUN, backed by the United Nations, donors, civil society, and the private sector, supports 28 developing countries across Africa, Asia, and South America to develop the right policies and programs at the country level to reduce stunting. The G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is committed to supporting SUN in scaling up progress against stunting targets.

Speaking after the meeting, U.K. International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said, “As we focus on the legacy of these wonderful London Olympics, we have a chance to give millions of the world’s poorest children a better start to life. Government, businesses, and NGOs must now work in partnership to improve nutrition for the world’s poorest people. I am determined that the U.K. will help lead and galvanize global efforts to tackle malnutrition.”

Read blogs from Feed the Future Deputy Coordinator for Development Tjada McKenna and USAID Assistant to the Administrator Paul Weisenfeld on the U.K. Global Hunger Event. 

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