At FHI 360, we recognize that optimal nutrition is about more than the simple presence or absence of food. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that all humans need to maintain strong bodies and mental sharpness, fight off disease and bear healthy children. About two billion people worldwide suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, caused by, among other things:
- Inadequate access to micronutrient-rich food
- High burden of infection and parasites
- Detrimental feeding and dietary practices
It is important to recognize that micronutrient deficiency adversely affects more than just the health and function of individuals. It also adversely impacts the economic and social development of communities and nations.
To help address this challenge, FHI 360 managed the U.S. Agency for International Development Micronutrient and Child Blindness Project. This effort forged partnerships between governments and industry in countries where the typical diet lacks key micronutrients. Working with our partners, the project helped establish standards for fortifying foods, such as salt, oil, sugar, maize and wheat flour. FHI 360's efforts have increased the availability of fortified foods in 13 countries.
FHI 360’s experts studied the acceptability of nutrient supplements and micronutrient powders among pregnant and lactating women, infants and young children in Bangladesh. There is a high prevalence of undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies in these populations. For a nutrient supplement to be effective, it must be acceptable and regularly consumed. Our study uncovered important perceptions about undernutrition and nutrient supplements. This information informs the selection of the best products to improve nutrition in target populations and helps optimize the effectiveness of wide-scale nutrition programs.