Can simply feeding eggs to undernourished children help tackle global malnutrition? Researchers think so. Two studies published this week show the impact of adding eggs to the diets of undernourished infants and children, such as a decreased prevalence of stunted growth – a condition that effects 159 million children around the world.1
- Results from a University of Arkansas study published in the journal Food & Nutrition Research found that adding eggs to the diets of 6 to 8-year-old children in undernourished areas of rural Uganda significantly increased their height and weight. This study was supported in part by a grant provided by the Egg Nutrition Center.2
- Similar results were seen in a study conducted by the Washington University in St. Louis. Researchers found that giving 6 to 9-month-old infants one egg a day versus no egg decreased the prevalence of stunted growth by 47% and underweight by 74%.3
Malnutrition during childhood can have lasting effects on health and quality of life. According to the World Health Organization, millions of children suffer from stunting and wasting.1 The problem hits close to home, too – approximately three million households in the United States are unable at times during the year to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children.4 Too often, malnutrition is a result of poor access or affordability of nutrient dense foods, leading potential issues like micronutrient deficiencies.1
Eggs are an affordable source of many nutrients necessary for growth and development. In fact, one large egg contains varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals as well as 6 grams of high quality protein – for under $.20 each.5,6 Among the sources of animal protein, eggs have one of the lowest environmental impacts and thus can be a sustainable solution to tackle malnourishment in underserved communities around the world.7
1. World Health Organization. What is Malnutrition? http://www.who.int/features/qa/malnutrition/en/
2. Baum JI, Miller JD, Gaines BL. The effect of egg supplementation on growth parameters in children participating in a school feeding program in rural Uganda: A pilot study. Food & Nutrition Research. 2017. E-pub ahead of print.
3. Iannotti LL, et al. Eggs in early complementary feeding and child growth: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics.2017. E-pub ahead of print.
4. Hunger in America: 2016 United States Hunger and Poverty Facts. http://www.worldhunger.org/hunger-in-america-2016-united-states-hunger-poverty-facts/
5. US Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28. Basic Report: 01123
6. United States Department of Agriculture. Economic Research Service. Retail data for beef, pork, poultry cuts, eggs, and dairy products.
7. Ranganathan, J. et al. 2016. “Shifting Diets for a Sustainable Food Future.” Working Paper, Installment 11 of Creating a Sustainable Food Future. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute. Accessible at http://www.worldresourcesreport.org.