Addressing malnutrition in low- and middle-income countries with double-duty actions

Multiple forms of malnutrition co-exist (the double burden) in low- and middle-income countries, but most interventions and policies target only one form. Identifying shared drivers of the double burden of malnutrition is a first step towards establishing effective interventions that simultaneously address the double burden of malnutrition (known as double-duty actions). We identified shared drivers for the double burden of malnutrition, to assess which double-duty actions are likely to have the greatest reach in preventing all forms of malnutrition, in the context of the sustainable development goals. We reviewed existing conceptual frameworks of the drivers of undernutrition, obesity and environmental sustainability. Shared drivers affecting all forms of malnutrition and environmental sustainability were captured using a socio-ecological approach. The extent to which drivers were addressed by the five double-duty actions proposed by the WHO was assessed. Overall, eighty-three shared drivers for the double burden of malnutrition were identified. A substantial proportion (75·0%) could be addressed by the five WHO double-duty actions. ‘Regulations on marketing’ and ‘promotion of appropriate early and complementary feeding in infants’ addressed the highest proportion of shared drivers (65·1% and 53·0%, respectively). Twenty-four drivers were likely to be sensitive to environmental sustainability, with ‘regulations on marketing’ and ‘school food programmes and policies’ likely to have the greatest environmental reach. A quarter of the shared drivers remained unaddressed by the five WHO double-duty actions. Substantially more drivers could be addressed with minor modifications to the WHO double-duty actions and the addition of de novo actions.