BRIGHT, funded by Global Affairs Canada, is a seven-year project that seeks to empower adolescents in Tanzania to exercise their sexual and reproductive health and nutrition rights.
When it comes to preventing malnutrition’s irreversible effects, timing is crucial. Adolescents grow and develop at a rate that is surpassed only by the staggering growth rate of a newborn.
It’s virtually impossible to overstate the role good nutrition plays in the adolescent stage of life. Adolescents are adding height, muscle and bone mass, while nearly every system and organ in the body matures. For adolescent girls, menarche (onset of menstruation) also increases nutritional needs for iron and other micronutrients related to growing bone and muscle mass, including calcium, zinc and vitamin D.
Good nutrition can fuel optimal physical and mental growth, giving adolescents the strength and focus to study, work, ward off illness and disease, and fully participate in their communities.
For biological, social and cultural reasons, girls are disproportionally impacted by malnutrition.
Despite having increased nutritional needs during adolescence, girls often face the most barriers to accessing the nutrition they need. An estimated 30% of adolescents worldwide are anaemic, and approximately half of those anaemia cases are due to iron deficiency. Malnutrition, along with social and cultural factors, contributes to 130 million girls being out of school. Even when girls are in school, anaemia can hold them back from academic achievement and potential future economic empowerment.