April 7, 2016

Guest Commentary – The Magic of 1,000 Days

Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.

By Bryana Braxton, Bread for the World

Author, journalist, and hunger activist Roger Thurow strives to raise awareness about child malnutrition and stunting around the world. His latest book, scheduled for release in May, continues that quest as it details the importance of proper nutrition and health care during the crucial 1,000 days window from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday.

The First 1,000 Days: a Crucial Time for Mothers and Children ― and the World follows groups of women and their children in India, Guatemala, Uganda, and the United States. Their stories reveal how the cost of stunted children reverberates from the individual to the community.

Stunting, the failure to grow both physically and cognitively, occurs when a child does not eat the right foods to receive essential nutrients. Thurow defines stunting as “a life sentence of under-performance and under-achievement.”

“A stunted child in Africa, India, Guatemala, or the Southside of Chicago is a stunted child for everywhere,” said Thurow, during an interview at Bread for the World’s office in Washington, D.C., last month.

The condition decreases cognitive development, making it difficult for children to learn in school. Poor or incomplete education, in turn, affects future job opportunities and can lead to a decreased income and poverty.

As the number of stunted children grows in a country, malnutrition has a national impact. Poverty levels increase, while the productivity and numbers in the labor force decreases. As multiple countries struggle economically from the effects of malnutrition, global trade and economic activity declines.

Malnutrition is not an issue just for developing countries; this issue affects all nations. Thurow points to the 1,000-day window to find a solution to this global problem. “If we truly want to make a difference and change the future, it’s the 1,000 days that we have the chance to do that,” he said.

Proper nutrition during this period builds the foundation for brain development, healthy growth, and a strong immune system. This time sets a child up for lifelong health, including their predisposition to obesity and certain chronic diseases.

Bread recognizes the opportunity that the 1,000-day movement presents to end child malnutrition and stunting. This year’s Offering of Letters: Survive and Thrive advocates for maternal and child nutrition worldwide. We are urging Congress to accelerate global progress against malnutrition by increasing U.S. government funding for the nutrition and health of mothers, newborns, and young children to $230 million.

Thurow is encouraging Bread members to “raise the clamor” and bring child malnutrition to Congress’ attention through the Offering of Letters and Lobby Day. In fact, Thurow is scheduled to speak at Bread’s Lobby Day on June 7.   


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A Wondrous Journey

Cruising down I-80 in the summer is one of the most wondrous, and paradoxical, drives in the country.

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1,000 Days and Migrant Stress

The first 1,000 days of a child's life is a critical time for development, where nutrition--and stability--lay the foundation for a lifetime. 

| By Roger Thurow

Outrage and Inspire with Roger Thurow - Am I About to Lose My Second Child, Too?

The latest podcast in our ongoing series with Roger Thurow. Hear how even the best nutrition projects can be undermined by bad water, poor sanitation and hygiene, and lousy infrastructure.  From northern Uganda, we hear a mother’s agony when her healthy, robust child suddenly falls ill after a few sips of water…unclean water, it turned out.

Roger Thurow on SDG 2.2

Roger Thurow sat down with Farming First to talk about the individual and societal consequences of malnutrition. 




Digital Preview of The First 1,000 Days

In his new book, The First 1,000 Days, Council senior fellow Roger Thurow illuminates the 1,000 Days initiative to end early childhood malnutrition through the compelling stories of new mothers in Uganda, India, Guatemala, and Chicago. Get a first-look at photos and stories from the book in this new web interactive.

» Learn more.
» Order your copy of the book.


The First 1,000 Days

Roger Thurow’s book will tell the story of the vital importance of proper nutrition and health care in the 1,000 days window from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday.

The 1,000 days period is the crucial period of development, when malnutrition can have severe life-long impacts on the individual, the family and society as a whole. Nutritional deficiencies that occur during this time are often overlooked, resulting in a hidden hunger. It is a problem of great human and economic dimensions, impacting rich and poor countries alike.

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The Last Hunger Season

In The Last Hunger Season, the intimate dramas of the farmers' lives unfold amidst growing awareness that to feed the world's growing population, food production must double by 2050. How will the farmers, Africa, and a hungrier world deal with issues of water usage, land ownership, foreign investment, corruption, GMO's, the changing role of women, and the politics of foreign aid?

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Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, award-winning writers on Africa, development, and agriculture, see famine as the result of bad policies spanning the political spectrum. In this compelling investigative narrative, they explain through vivid human stories how the agricultural revolutions that transformed Asia and Latin America stopped short in Africa, and how our sometimes well-intentioned strategies—alternating with ignorance and neglect—have conspired to keep the world’s poorest people hungry and unable to feed themselves.

Learn more »