Remember that paper on stunting that we included in Brainfood a couple of weeks ago? It was called What Does Stunting Really Mean? A Critical Review of the Evidence, and the answer to the question in the title was, to put it bluntly: not as much as many think.
Why is that important? Well, because “[s]tunting is commonly believed to cause serious problems, including delayed child development, reduced productivity and earnings in adulthood, higher incidence of chronic diseases including obesity or cardiovascular problems, difficult childbirth, and poor birth outcomes such as low birthweight.” But it turns out that this is not entirely true, and “this subtle misinterpretation could harm the global nutrition agenda.”
That’s from a blog post by one of the authors on the IFPRI website, which also includes a handy video explanation of the subtleties involved. Here’s the bottom line: stunting is not so much the fire as the smoke alarm.