The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are crucial to his or her future health. Susan Ejang, a midwife at Ongica Health Center in Barjwinya, Uganda tells local mothers (1):
The 1,000-day period from the beginning of pregnancy to a child’s second birthday will determine the health of your child, the ability to learn in school, to perform at a future job.
Good Nutrition: The Foundation of a Good Life
Good nutrition during a child’s first 1,000 days (almost three years) is the foundation of a good life. Sadly, the opposite is also true: without proper nutrition, kids can’t grow and develop normally. Below are some additional ways that poor nutrition negatively impact kids (2):
- Almost ½ of all preventable deaths among children can be linked to malnutrition
- 25% of all children under the age of five are stunted. This damage is often irreversible (1). In 2017, 151 million children were physically stunted (a direct impact of malnutrition).
- Poor nutrition makes kids more susceptible to early childhood illnesses and illnesses in adulthood.
- Children of malnourished mothers have a higher risk of being malnourished.
Furthermore, early childhood malnutrition prevents a child from developing to his or her full potential and it limits their future. Consequently, malnutrition actually hinders a child’s ability to develop, learn, be productive, make a living for themselves, become self-sufficient, and escape poverty (2).
Royal DSM’s Worldwide Survey
When Royal DSM surveyed 7,400 mothers of children aged 4 to 12 in 12 countries, nearly half of them say they make sure their children consume adequate nutrients (3). The study surveyed mothers in the U.S.A., Mexico, Germany, Australia, China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia/UAE, and Russia. The top three issues mentioned by all of these mothers were:
- A healthy diet
- Building and boosting a healthy immune system
- Sleep issues (quantity and quality of sleep)
Although mothers in each country weigh each of these factors differently, these are their top concerns. What’s more, the study shows that these mothers do their best to supplement their children’s nutrition. Specifically, they do this with fortified food and drinks. Lastly, doctor’s recommendations play a big role in whether these mothers purchase children’s nutritional supplements for their children.
The Worldwide Focus on Childhood Nutrition
Across the globe, nations now realize that child nutrition is directly related to the nation’s growth and prosperity. After a 2016 visit to Indonesia, Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Vice President for East Asia-Pacific stated:
Malnutrition, in particular, exacerbates the unfair start in life that poorer children often face, undermining their ability to succeed as adults. Stunted growth during the critical period of early life, the first 1,000 days, impairs brain cell development, the impact of which can be devastating. Research shows that stunted children often do worse in school and may lose ten percent of their earnings over a lifetime.
Kwakwa views an investment into Indonesian children’s nutrition as a direct contributing factor in Indonesia’s economic future (4). In light of this, child nutrition has even become important to charitable organizations like the Gates Foundation. In 2016, Bill and Melinda Gates pledged to double investments in nutrition to $776 million (5).
What Does This Mean for the Supplement Industry?
Regarding the dietary supplement industry, there are opportunities to create and market supplements for children that appeal to both mothers and kids. With mothers already seeking ways to complement their kids’ current diets and boost their nutrition, child-focused nutritional supplements are becoming increasingly popular. Moreover, as awareness grows regarding the importance of good nutrition during a child’s first 1,000 days, the demand for high-quality nutritional supplements also continues to grow.
As Susan Ejang, the midwife in Uganda says, in the first 1,000 days “parents’ ambitions for their children begin to be fulfilled, or dashed.” Not only that, but these first 1,000 days play a vital role in the health and vitality of families, communities, and entire nations. As a result, medical professionals, politicians, economists, aid workers, are emphasizing childhood nutrition like never before.
Apart from simply boosting an individual child’s health and improving his or her life, good nutrition can impact an entire society. Indeed, it can change the face of a nation. As a result, mothers around the world are paying more attention to the diets of their young children. Having high hopes for their children will do everything they can, including introducing children’s nutritional supplements, to ensure that their child’s first 1,000 days are the best they can be.