United Kingdom - Nutrition

UK demonstrated global leadership through Nutrition for Growth; policy focus is ‘1000-day window’ from conception to two years of age

According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) data, the UK spent US$158 million on basic nutrition in 2018, down from US$199 million in 2017. According to the latest Global Nutrition Report , the UK reported US$725 million in nutrition-sensitive disbursements in 2017.

Nutrition is a priority topic for the UK. In 2015, the former Department for International Development (DFID) committed “to improve the nutrition of 50 million people by 2020” and updated its strategies toward that overarching goal in 2017 with the position paper ‘Saving lives, investing in future generations and building prosperity – the UK’s Global Nutrition Position Paper’. The paper outlines prioritized nutritional support during the ‘1000-day window’ from conception to two years of age, as well as the prevention of “the most severe forms of undernutrition” in children under five.

The 2017 position paper outlines a four-pronged approach:

  1. Providing nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive services together and in the same place to maximize impact;
  2. Focusing on reaching the “extreme poor, the most marginalized and those in fragile and conflict-affected states”;
  3. Supporting government leadership, capacity, and system strengthening; and
  4. Leveraging private-sector investment.

Additional priorities for the 2017- 2020 period set out in the UK’s Global Nutrition Position Paper include:

  • “Preventing wasting, micronutrient deficiencies and low birth weight, alongside existing work to prevent child stunting”;
  • “Addressing the nutritional needs of women and adolescents, particularly adolescent girls”; and
  • “Strengthening the breadth and quality of DFID’s nutrition-sensitive, multi-sector investments as a result of the evidence showing that nutrition-specific interventions will only address 20% of stunting”.

The UK has helped to mobilize the global community to combat undernutrition, hosting the ‘Hunger Summit’ during the London Olympics in 2012 and co-hosting the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit in 2013. Since then, the UK has not made any substantial new commitments; at the 2017 N4G summit, they reiterated their commitments made at the 2013 summit, including to spend £575 million (US$767 million) on nutrition-specific goals and reach 50 million people by 2030. The UK was collaborating with the government of Japan on the organization of the 2020 Global Nutrition Summit. DFID was also supportive of the global ‘Scaling Up Nutrition’ (SUN) movement and has supported programs in more than 15 countries to expand nutrition.

DFID was responsible for shaping the UK’s policy on nutrition

DFID was responsible for decision making on nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive programs in low-income countries. Within partner countries, DFID sought to promote multi-sectoral, integrated programs relating to nutrition. The nutrition team within the Human Development Department of DFID led policy engagement, in collaboration with program teams covering health, agriculture, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), and social protection. It is unclear at this stage what the new management structures for UK’s nutrition policy within the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) will be.