Malnutrition: Another form of injury that can be prevented

This week my attention was drawn to the Save the Children’s report “Food for Thought: Tackling child malnutrition to unlock potential and boost prosperity” (read more at

As I read this report, I had to reassess exactly what I believed injury to be.

The most basic definition of injury is damage or harm which is inflicted upon or suffered by a person. There is no doubt in my mind that malnutrition is another form of injury.

Perhaps one of the reasons malnutrition has not been comprehensively examined in the peer-reviewed publications such as Injury Prevention is that the impact of the injury may not be felt for many years. The short-term impact of malnutrition is widely recognised, with one child dying every 15 seconds. The long-term impact of malnutrition is not as widely recognised, the Food for Thought report highlighting the long-term effects of infant and child malnutrition in poor literacy and numeracy at school, which directly impacts upon the the adult’s ability to earn.

As injury and injury prevention researchers, practitioners and policy makers, we strive to understand the factors contributing to or causing the injury, how we can prevent and minimise any damage or harm from that injury, and we shape policy and practice at every opportunity to better the lives of all. The peer-reviewed literature constantly documents the increased vulnerability to, and greater impact felt by, persons from lower socioeconomic environments for a range of injuries. It seems to me that malnourishment requires greater injury prevention efforts. Simple direct nutrtition interventions, such as iron and iodine supplements, can not only ameliorate the symptoms of malnutrition but can also reduce healthcare costs.

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