Challenges to improving adolescent nutrition in Bangladesh and Tanzania

scence is the only time in a person's life where their rate of growth will increase," says Levinson, corresponding author on the paper. "Adolescents can gain 15 percent of their ultimate adult height and 50 percent of their adult weight in this time period. They simply need more nutrients to support that growth and to become healthy adults."

The authors highlight findings from programs in Bangladesh that illustrate the potential for government-driven solutions. The government of Bangladesh, along with multiple non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international partners, created and operated the Bangladesh Integrated Nutrition Project (BINP) between 1996 and 2003. BINP developed programs such as the Adolescent Girls Forum, which focused on teaching young women about healthy diets, reproductive health, delaying pregnancy, and women's rights; and the Newly Married Couples initiative to help young women through their first pregnancy. According to the authors, it is highly desirable for adolescent girls to attain full growth prior to their first pregnancy due to severe nutritional demands that pregnancy places on a female's body.

While the effects of the Newly Married Couples initiative are presently being studied, an evaluation of the Adolescent Girls Forum program found that this initiative achieved significant success in delaying the average age of pregnancy and marriage. "The mean age of marriage was delayed approximately five months in project areas," said Levinson, "while the mean age of pregnancy was delayed by more than seven months." Highlighting the results, the writers report that "the evaluation found that adolescent girls in project areas were significantly more aware of the importance of adequate food intake, rest, as well as of the importance of initiation and optimal length of breastfeeding than adolescents in control areas."

Based on the success of this program for adolescent girls, the Bangladesh Rural Advancement

Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
Tufts University

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