The influence of livestock-derived foods on nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life
This report (PDF) by ILRI synthesizes the best current evidence on the influence of livestock-derived foods (LDF), such as meat, milk and eggs, on the nutrition of pregnant and lactating mothers and infants during their first 1,000 days of life in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), especially in Africa and Asia. The study was driven by concern for still unacceptably high levels of child undernutrition. Consumption of LDF is rapidly increasing in most LMIC, but is still much lower than in higher income regions. Mothers and children only consume LDF occasionally. Moreover, significant regional variations in LDF consumption indicate that livestock and nutritional interventions must be tailored to local contexts. Especially since studies revealed that the consumption of LDF can improve growth, cognition and other nutrition outcomes in children. Furthermore, malnourished children benefit more from LDF consumption than healthy children. Livestock interventions do improve small-scale food production and increase incomes and household expenditure, and thus can improve nutrient consumption and diets in poor households and maybe nutritional outcomes. Livestock interventions are more successful at improving nutrition when targeted at women, include nutritional education and when they are integrated into larger interventions. There is a broad consensus that diets low in LDF and high in vegetables offer twin benefits to human nutrition and environmental sustainability. However, for LMIC there are several caveats. For example, ‘LMIC diets’ that incorporate LDF can use less land for food production than their plant-based alternatives and the type of land used is often different. LDF production is often using non-human-edible feed on marginal, otherwise unproductive, rangelands. Furthermore, diets considered sustainable in high-income countries often contain more LDF than in LMIC and the environmental aspect of sustainability often ignores social, economic and health dimensions.
A blog on this report can be found here.