DOI: 10.1111/mcn.13577 ISSN: 1740-8695

Micronutrient gaps during the complementary feeding period in seven countries in Southeast Asia: A Comprehensive Nutrient Gap Assessment

Jessica M. White, Elizabeth Drummond, Vasundhara Bijalwan, Anusara Singhkumarwong, Arvind Betigeri, Jessica Blankenship
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health


The complementary feeding period is a critical stage of child development when micronutrient needs are high and challenging to meet. Understanding if specific micronutrient gaps exist during this period is critical for effective programming. A Comprehensive Nutrient Gap Assessment (CONGA) was conducted in seven countries in Southeast Asia to estimate gaps in micronutrients commonly lacking in the diets of children aged 6–23 months and to establish the certainty of available evidence for each identified gap. Sixty‐eight evidence sources were identified during this analysis, and 310 micronutrient‐specific data points were identified across all seven countries. Data points varied in recency, representativeness and evidence type. The CONGA methodology enabled the estimation of a gap burden rating for each micronutrient in each country, as well as a rating of their evidence certainty. Micronutrient gaps were identified in vitamin D, zinc and iron and a potential gap was identified in calcium during the complementary feeding period in the region. Evidence relevant to intake and deficiency of folate, vitamin B12, thiamine, niacin, vitamin C and vitamin B6 was limited across the region. Proven strategies to address these gaps include increasing the availability and consumption of nutrient‐dense foods, micronutrient supplementation, large‐scale fortification of staple foods and condiments and point‐of‐use fortification through multiple micronutrient powders and fortified speciality foods. More recent data on micronutrient availability, intake and deficiency is urgently needed in Southeast Asia.

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