2.7M

Adolescent girls reached with gender-sensitive health & nutrition education

1M

Adolescent boys reached with gender-sensitive health & nutrition education

95K

Frontline workers trained to deliver adolescent health services and nutrition education

THE NEED

Adolescents can have a brighter future if proper nutrition and healthy habits are established in this critical growth period.

The world today is home to the largest population of adolescents and youth in human history. Almost half of 1.2 billion adolescents living on the planet are girls.

86% of the world’s adolescents live in low- and middle-income countries, with more than half of the adolescent population living in Asia.

Adolescents need adequate and healthy diets to meet the growth demands of puberty and to reduce the risk of malnutrition. Adolescence marks the second-fastest period of growth, after infancy, providing a second window of opportunity in the life course for growth and development.

With access to adequate health and nutrition, adolescence is a time when “catch-up growth” may occur and reduce childhood stunting, with dramatic increases in height.

Adolescents are a diverse group with varied needs and motivations

The global community needs a deeper understanding of the needs, preferences and circumstances of adolescents to deliver health and nutrition education that ensures health equity, non-discrimination and active participation.

To inform program development and policy-making, we need to understand the behaviours, dietary patterns and main influencers in the context of adolescents’ social and psychosocial development.

Also, to support scale-up, health systems integration, cross-sector collaboration and sustainability, we need to conduct follow-up research to help identify innovations, delivery platforms and partnerships that reach and affect adolescents.

How we help

We ensure that adolescents get the nutrition and knowledge they need to reach their full potential.

Through our nutrition education interventions, we:

  • Support adolescents in becoming advocates for their own nutrition and health with knowledge and skill development by developing or revising existing school curricula to include topics such as growth, puberty and nutritional needs, menstrual hygiene management, and physical activity and overall health for boys and girls
  • Promote a multisectoral approach to improving adolescent nutrition by collaborating and working with other sectors on topics that resonate with adolescents and respond to their needs, such as education, water, sanitation and hygiene, family planning and social protection
  • Support a “girl-to-girl” approach to reach out-of-school adolescent girls, which includes training a core group of schoolgirls to be nodal girls, who are tasked with reaching out-of-school girls with a regular supply of iron and folic acid supplements and offering counselling on the benefits and managing side effects
  • Train teachers and frontline health workers to reach women and adolescent girls with health and nutrition information
  • Work with both ministries of health and education, as well as local partners to support the implementation of adolescent nutrition intervention packages
  • Provide guidance to governments on the scale-up of the most cost-effective strategies within the education and health systems

Learn more

Adolescent Nutrition and Anaemia free online course

Globally, adolescents―particularly girls―are greatly affected by malnutrition, partly due to their specific biological needs. However, they are often missed by health and nutrition interventions. This course is designed to close the knowledge gap.

Learn more about adolescent nutrition