Indirect health sector actions and supportive strategies to prevent malnutrition

Document Type



Women and Child Health


Purpose of review: Malnutrition is a pervasive problem that causes negative acute, long-term, and intergenerational consequences. As we have begun to move from efficacy to effectiveness trials of nutrition interventions, and further still to more holistic case study approaches to understanding how and why nutrition outcomes change over time, it has become clear that more emphasis on the 'nutrition-sensitive' interventions is required.
Recent findings: In this article, we propose recategorizing the nutrition-specific and sensitive terminology into a new framework that includes direct and indirect health sector actions and supportive strategies that exist outside the health sector; an adjustment that will improve sector-specific planning and accountability. We outline indirect health sector nutrition interventions, with a focus on family planning and the evidence to support its positive link with nutrition outcomes. In addition, we discuss supportive strategies for nutrition, with emphasis on agriculture and food security, water, sanitation, and hygiene, and poverty alleviation and highlight some of the recent evidence that has contributed to these fields.
Summary: Indirect health sector nutrition interventions and supportive strategies for nutrition will be critical, alongside direct health sector nutrition interventions, to reach global targets. Investments should be made both inside and outside the health sector.


Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care