Improving diets of children and youth in Central Asia and Caucasus

Regional symposium in Kazakhstan brings together key policymakers from the eight countries to take bold action against the double burden of malnutrition

25 April 2019
Children sitting around a basket of tomatoes.
UNICEF

Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, 24 April 2019 – the symposium aims to address all forms of malnutrition, including stunting, obesity as well as micronutrient deficiencies by promoting a better understanding of the food system and nutrition governance in the region.

The Caucasus and Central Asia region faces the double burden of malnutrition among children and adolescents, with more than 10 per cent of children not reaching their potential height growth, while at the same time, obesity rates are rapidly increasing (by over 80 per cent since 2000). 

To foster solutions to accelerate the fight against malnutrition, the Regional Nutrition Capacity Development Symposium on sustainable food systems and nutrition governance gathers representatives of member states of the Regional Nutrition Capacity Development and Partnership platform: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as representatives of international organizations, experts and academia.

Participants will develop regional mechanisms to enhance the capacity of key actors engaged in nutrition.

“The double burden of malnutrition affects the wellbeing of millions of children, impairing growth and cognitive development of young children and increases the risk of non-communicable diseases, premature death, and disability in their future life. Children do not receive the diets they need: in quantity, frequency and quality,” said Yuri Oksamitniy, Representative of UNICEF in Kazakhstan.

Actors across the food system – policy makers in all sectors, food producers and suppliers – typically do not account for the nutritional needs of children and adolescents when determining nationwide food and agriculture policies on what foods to grow, produce, distribute, and sell. Processed, less nutritious foods are skillfully marketed and widely available and affordable, while nutritious foods are often more expensive and unaffordable to many. The food environment often does not favor a nutritious diet for children and adolescents, nor is it supported to do so. Local, national and global food systems must be accountable for providing healthy, affordable and sustainable diets to children and adolescents today and in the future.

“We must work closely across sectors – parliaments, ministries of health, finance, agriculture, education, social protection, managers from food and nutrition, health, education and social protection sectors. Only systematic and joint multi-sectoral approach of governments utilizing several delivery systems can help improve the current situation in terms of the double burden of malnutrition. Food systems avenue among the mentioned delivery systems has a unique convening role for all sectors’ efforts to achieve sustainable and positive changes, beginning from the production of food in the farm down to the plate of a child,” said Amirhossein Yarparvar, Regional Health and Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia.

The symposium is organized by UNICEF Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Regional Office in partnership with the Government of Kazakhstan, the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition. It is heald as part of the Regional Nutrition Capacity Development and Partnership Platform’s Plan of Action, launched with the commitment of all 8 participating countries in July 2018. The Kazakhstan Government is the Chair of the Platform Secretariat for two years.

 

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For more information please contact:

Zarina Nurmukhambetova, UNICEF Kazakhstan, +7 7172 322878 ext 112, znurmukhambetova@unicef.org

Dinara Saliyeva, UNICEF Kazakhstan, +7 702 8450527, dsaliyeva@unicef.org

Media Contacts

Chulho Hyun

UNICEF Regional Office Europe and Central Asia

Tel: +41 22 909 52 86

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