This is a project about the science, the innovations, the economics and the politics of malnutrition and hunger.
Roger Thurow's narrative storytelling follows small groups of women and their children in four parts of the world—the U.S., India, Africa and Guatemala—through the 1,000-day period when the health of the mother is paramount and when the infant and young child begins crucial cognitive and physical development. Any period of hunger or malnutrition during these days can have a severe life-long impact. In developing countries, under-nutrition is the underlying cause of one third of all deaths in children under five years of age.
Of the children who survive, about one third suffer from stunting, which often leads to poor school performance and, later in life, lower economic productivity. Undernourished women are at a greater risk of dying from pregnancy complications and have a higher risk of delivering low-birth-weight babies.
The consequences of malnutrition ravage individuals, families, communities, nations. It is estimated that widespread malnourishment can cut 3 percent off a country's GDP. This, in turn, weakens the global economy. With every child whose development is mentally and physically stunted, the world loses a lifetime of earning and buying power, and it is deprived of unimagined individual innovation.