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Adv Nutr. 2017 Sep 15;8(5):770-779. doi: 10.3945/an.117.016121. Print 2017 Sep.

Evaluation of Nutrition Interventions in Children in Conflict Zones: A Narrative Review.

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  • 1Departments of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Yale University School of Public Health, New Haven, CT.
  • 2Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Yale University School of Public Health, New Haven, CT.
  • 3Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT.


Food and nutrition insecurity becomes increasingly worse in areas affected by armed conflict. Children affected by conflict, or in war-torn settings, face a disproportionate burden of malnutrition and poor health outcomes. As noted by humanitarian response reviews, there is a need for a stronger evidence-based response to humanitarian crises. To achieve this, we systematically searched and evaluated existing nutrition interventions carried out in conflict settings that assessed their impact on children's nutrition status. To evaluate the impact of nutrition interventions on children's nutrition and growth status, we identified published literature through EMBASE, PubMed, and Global Health by using a combination of relevant text words and Medical Subject Heading terms. Studies for this review must have included children (aged ≤18 y), been conducted in conflict or postconflict settings, and assessed a nutrition intervention that measured ≥1 outcome for nutrition status (i.e., stunting, wasting, or underweight). Eleven studies met the inclusion and exclusion criteria for this review. Five different nutrition interventions were identified and showed modest results in decreasing the prevalence of stunting, wasting, underweight, reduction in severe or moderate acute malnutrition or both, mortality, anemia, and diarrhea. Overall, nutrition interventions in conflict settings were associated with improved children's nutrition or growth status. Emergency nutrition programs should continue to follow recent recommendations to expand coverage and access (beyond refugee camps to rural areas) and ensure that aid and nutrition interventions are distributed equitably in all conflict-affected populations.


conflict settings; conflict zones; emergency settings; humanitarian aid; humanitarian emergencies; malnutrition; nutrition aid; nutrition interventions; nutritional status; therapeutic feeding

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