Back to Overview

Reducing Global Malnutrition, One Egg at a Time

 

Stunting, or chronic malnutrition, continues to plague countries worldwide with 151 million children under five now affected, and a further 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Children who are stunted before the age of two are at a greater risk for poor cognitive development, educational outcomes and economic performance in later childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Stunting in early childhood has multiple causes, including inadequate infant and young child feeding practices, poor environmental health, and dietary diversity, including low intake of animal-sourced foods (ASFs) rich in protein and other key nutrients during the complementary feeding period (6-24 months). Evidence suggests that greater dietary diversity and the consumption of foods from animal sources are associated with improved linear growth.

                    

 

An Egg-cellent Way to Improve Maternal and Child Nutrition 
 
Eggs have a huge potential to improve maternal and child nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life. Small but mighty eggs innately possess all the nutrients an infant embryo needs to grow, in addition to high-quality protein. A review from Iannotti et al. (2014) demonstrated the potential of eggs to improve maternal and child nutrition in low and middle-income countries with improvements in linear growth and cognition in young children.
 
Studies on egg consumption for women and children also show that child growth indicators are significantly improved in the intervention groups compared to control groups. A pilot study conducted in Uganda sought to explore if eating one or two eggs could improve the growth and development of school-age children. The study found that adding eggs to school meals may contribute positively to the physical development of children in Uganda. Another study in Malawi, which Sight and Life was involved in, found that the nine essential amino acids, essential lipids and choline provided by eggs were significantly lower in stunted children compared with non-stunted children. In Ecuador, Iannotti et al. (2017) found that feeding eggs to older infants and young children during the complementary feeding period could significantly reduce stunting.
 
Eggs are easy to store, transport, clean, cook and eat, and can be prepared as a meal on their own or as an ingredient in recipes. Among all the sources of animal protein, eggs have one of the lowest environmental impacts and thus making them a sustainable solution to improving optimal development and reducing malnutrition in children.
 

The Eggciting Project at Sight and Life 

At Sight and Life, the quest to deliver eggs to some of the world’s most vulnerable populations remains an eggciting and eggstra-ordinary opportunity. We are devoted to increasing egg production and egg consumption around the world, and our efforts are already helping children and families access the high-quality protein and nutrition found in eggs. Through our Eggciting Project we are working on making eggs available and affordable to low-income households through innovative poultry business models in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, and Malawi. We are also piloting new innovations in egg production, egg-based products, models, tools and approaches to address protein and micronutrient malnutrition during pregnancy, infancy, and adolescence.

Two core innovations that Sight and Life support are the ‘egg hub’ and ‘egg powder’. An ‘egg hub’ solves supply-side challenges faced by small and medium scale poultry farms. It is a centralized unit of high-quality affordable inputs, extension services, training and market access to farmers. Egg hubs can help countries with dominant low-yield extensive production systems to transition to efficient, high-yield intensive systems associated with much lower market prices.  

Often referred to as ‘powdered-egg’, ‘dry egg’, ‘dried egg powder’, and even the ‘Ersatz egg’ at a certain time in history, egg powder is a pasteurized spray-dried product from fresh hen eggs. Dehydration of eggs was a method of preservation used in the Middle Ages and used for rationing during World War I. It has a long shelf life of two years, is easy-to-store and transport over long distances, convenient and quick to use and cook. The egg powder is commonly used as a functional food application in baked goods and hence traded in large volumes across the world.  Sight and Life is now testing the egg powder for end consumer applications in public health. Stay tuned for news of our egg hub journey, consumer insights and novel applications of the egg powder.

Learn more about the Eggciting Project at SAL and check out our cool infographic that lays out all the benefits of eggs!!!