The Oriente Study: Program and Policy Impacts
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This journal supplement summarizes the many contributions of the Oriente Study to scientific knowledge. This article asks whether this knowledge has actually translated into program and/or policy changes. It describes 2 key areas where this is the case: 1) in defining the "window of opportunity" for nutrition interventions and changing policy regarding the targeting of nutrition interventions; and 2) in building the economic argument for investing in early childhood nutrition. It concludes that the study contributed most of the research evidence supporting the change in policy adopted by the U.S. government in 2009, which encourages the targeting of food-assisted maternal and child health and nutrition programs to pregnant mothers and children under 2 y of age. The paper reviews the process and the complementary evidence that led to this policy change. The Oriente Study also provides the first direct, and the strongest, evidence supporting the economic argument in favor of investing in early child nutrition. The results show a direct link between improved nutrition in early childhood and persistent benefits in adult physical status, schooling, cognitive skills, and economic productivity. It is hoped that, given the multiple shocks currently affecting the poor, these powerful results will help stimulate greater investments in maternal and child nutrition in the short term. J. Nutr. 140: 415-418, 2010.
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