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Stunting, undernutrition and obesity: the triple threat of childhood malnutrition

Guest edited by Prof. Andrew Prentice and Dr. Martha Mwangome

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The global burden of undernutrition in children has been declining but now shows evidence of an upturn, whilst the burden of obesity is rising at an alarming rate [1].  Mounting evidence is now alluding to the so-called ‘double burden’ epidemic in some countries [2], whereby high rates of under nutrition and obesity are found within the same country due to the increased availability of unhealthy foods and disposable income. Given the potential knock-on effects such as impairment of brain development and the immune system, as well as future development of chronic diseases, greater efforts are required to tackle these problems. Ending these issues by 2030 is one of the WHO’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and achieving a major reduction in stunting is a global target for 2025 [3].

We are seeking both primary research articles and front-matter content (such as Reviews and Opinions) that highlight the global scale of these crucial problems; identify mediating factors and contributing influences that cause or exasperate these problems; and discuss the impact of clinical and policy-based solutions. We would be particularly keen to receive submissions on the following topics:

  • Monitoring global trends of stunting, undernutrition and obesity
  • The impact of the maternal and infant gut microbiome on obesity
  • Associations between malnutrition and infections and chronic diseases
  • Epigenetic and environmental factors that influence nutrition
  • Interventional studies, such as those investigating the effect of nutrient supplements, WASH practices, or increasing physical activity
  • Government policies, like the sugar tax

We welcome direct submission of original research within the article collection's scope. Please submit directly to BMC Medicine, indicating in your cover letter that you are targeting this collection. Alternatively, you can email a pre-submission query to the editorial team at This is an open collection and we will be accepting submissions until November 2020. 

[1] Joint child malnutrition estimates 2018 (UNICEF-WHO-WB). The World Bank. 2018. Accessed 08 Feb 2019.
[2] Prentice A. The Double Burden of Malnutrition in Countries Passing through the Economic Transition. Ann Nutr Metab. 2018;72(3):47-54.
[3] Global Targets 2025: To improve maternal, infant and young child nutrition. The World Health Organization. 2014. Accessed 08 Feb 2019.  

Guest Editors provided guidance on the scope of this collection and advised on commissioned content. However, they are not involved in editorial decision-making on papers submitted to this collection. All final editorial decisions are with the Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Lin Lee.​

  1. Early-life malnutrition may have long-lasting effects on microbe-host interactions that affect health and disease susceptibility later in life. Diet quality and quantity in conjunction with toxin and pathogen ...

    Authors: Andrew J. Forgie, Kelsea M. Drall, Stephane L. Bourque, Catherine J. Field, Anita L. Kozyrskyj and Benjamin P. Willing
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2020 18:135
  2. Promoting breastfeeding is an important public health intervention, with benefits for infants and mothers. Even modest increases in prevalence and duration may yield considerable economic savings. However, des...

    Authors: Mary S. Fewtrell, Nurul H. Mohd Shukri and Jonathan C. K. Wells
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2020 18:4
  3. Moderate-to-severe diarrhea (MSD) in the first 2 years of life can impair linear growth. We sought to determine risk factors for linear growth faltering and to build a clinical prediction tool to identify chil...

    Authors: Rebecca L. Brander, Patricia B. Pavlinac, Judd L. Walson, Grace C. John-Stewart, Marcia R. Weaver, Abu S. G. Faruque, Anita K. M. Zaidi, Dipika Sur, Samba O. Sow, M. Jahangir Hossain, Pedro L. Alonso, Robert F. Breiman, Dilruba Nasrin, James P. Nataro, Myron M. Levine and Karen L. Kotloff
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2019 17:214
  4. In recent decades, the prevalence of obesity in children has increased dramatically. This worldwide epidemic has important consequences, including psychiatric, psychological and psychosocial disorders in child...

    Authors: Mariachiara Di Cesare, Maroje Sorić, Pascal Bovet, J Jaime Miranda, Zulfiqar Bhutta, Gretchen A Stevens, Avula Laxmaiah, Andre-Pascal Kengne and James Bentham
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2019 17:212
  5. The term ‘double burden of malnutrition’ is usually interpreted in terms of the physical status of children: stunted and wasted children on the one hand and overweight/obese children on the other. There is a t...

    Authors: Martha Mwangome and Andrew M. Prentice
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2019 17:210
  6. Stunting affects more than 161 million children worldwide and can compromise cognitive development beginning early in childhood. There is a paucity of research using neuroimaging tools in conjunction with sens...

    Authors: Wanze Xie, Sarah K. G. Jensen, Mark Wade, Swapna Kumar, Alissa Westerlund, Shahria H. Kakon, Rashidul Haque, William A. Petri and Charles A. Nelson
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2019 17:199
  7. Please see related article: https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12916-019-1410-x

    Authors: Megan Wilson-Jones, Kyla Smith, Dan Jones, Helen Hamilton, Leah Richardson, Alison Macintyre, Om Prasad Gautam, Erik Harvey and Henry Northover
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2019 17:183

    The original article was published in BMC Medicine 2019 17:173

  8. Three large new trials of unprecedented scale and cost, which included novel factorial designs, have found no effect of basic water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions on childhood stunting, and only ...

    Authors: Oliver Cumming, Benjamin F. Arnold, Radu Ban, Thomas Clasen, Joanna Esteves Mills, Matthew C. Freeman, Bruce Gordon, Raymond Guiteras, Guy Howard, Paul R. Hunter, Richard B. Johnston, Amy J. Pickering, Andrew J. Prendergast, Annette Prüss-Ustün, Jan Willem Rosenboom, Dean Spears…
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2019 17:173
  9. School neighborhood food environment is recognized as an important contributor to childhood obesity; however, large-scale and longitudinal studies remain limited. This study aimed to examine this association a...

    Authors: Peng Jia, Hong Xue, Xi Cheng and Youfa Wang
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2019 17:99