CHICAGO, April 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that Chicago will host 1,000 Days to Change the Future: Making Malnutrition History on Monday, May 21 at the Chicago History Museum. The half-day summit will convene leaders from across the globe in the business, foundation, academic and non-profit communities and feature a robust discussion among leading voices working to address the challenges of child malnutrition in the U.S. and throughout the world.
Every year, 3.5 million children die due to malnutrition, while millions more, including many in the U.S., suffer the devastating effects of hunger and poor nutrition. Poor nutrition early in life, particularly during the 1,000 days between a woman's pregnancy and her child's 2nd birthday, can lead to lower IQ, lower educational performance, obesity, chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, and can trap children and their families in a cycle of poverty. It is during this 1,000 day window that a child's brain and body is most susceptible to the serious, often irreversible, damage caused by malnutrition.
Recognizing the critical, yet often overlooked role that nutrition plays in promoting long-term progress in health and economic development, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other global leaders launched the 1,000 Days Partnership in 2010 as a public-private partnership that promotes targeted action and investment to improve nutrition for women and children in the 1,000 day window. At this summit in Chicago, organizations committed to improving nutrition in the U.S. and globally will convene as part of the 1,000 Days Partnership to catalyze collaboration on this important issue.
"Nutrition serves as the DNA of health and development. At an individual level, nutrition affects virtually every aspect of a human being's physical and intellectual development. At a global level, how well or how poorly people are nourished affects the overall health, prosperity and stability of entire societies. The 1,000 days between pregnancy and age two is when we have the greatest opportunity to prevent the enormous economic and health costs that malnutrition imposes on people and their communities," said Lucy Sullivan, executive director, 1,000 Days – the host organization of the summit. "It is our hope that this summit will inspire greater action that will lead to a scale change in improving nutrition for women and children throughout the globe."
"Whether it is the strength of our schools or the safety of our streets, every child deserves a good start and a fair shot at life," said Mayor Emanuel. "Nothing is more important to a child's future health and success than those first 1,000 days of life. I am delighted that the 1,000 Days Summit will be held in Chicago to discuss this critical issue."
"Addressing nutrition for pregnant women and children before age 2 is critical for building healthy populations, and prosperous societies," said Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues at the U.S. Department of State. "Nutrition for women and children, especially during the 1,000 day window, supports long term economic growth, and has been a top priority of Secretary Clinton."
The Summit will be hosted by 1,000 Days, along with partners Concern Worldwide, Feeding America, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, the World Food Programme, the City of Chicago and World Business Chicago.
"In Cook County, nearly 1 in 4 children, 23.5 percent, are food insecure. Many children are simply not getting enough of the right foods they need to thrive," said Kate Maehr, executive director and CEO, Greater Chicago Food Depository. "Hunger affects a young person's health and ability to learn. We look forward to collaborating and partnering with other organizations to help shape better futures for children in Chicago and throughout the world."
"Nearly 14 million children are estimated to be served by Feeding America, more than 3 million of whom are ages 5 and under," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO, Feeding America. "It's critically important that all of the anti-hunger community works together to ensure that every person across in our nation and around the world have access to adequate amounts of nutritious food."
"At least one-third of the world's children under five are under-nourished. As a result they are too often physically and mentally disadvantaged for life. It really is time to end the scandal of malnutrition. The political movement for Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) is gaining in strength and this summit is an opportunity to focus on the critical thousand days between early pregnancy and a child's second birthday. The World Food Programme is a committed contributor to the SUN Movement and the 1000 Days Partnership," said Ertharin Cousin, executive director, World Food Programme.
Leading economists and scientists agree that improving early nutrition is one of the most powerful and cost-effective tools for long-term poverty alleviation and economic development.
"Evidence-based policies are critical to solving serious societal issues like malnutrition in children," said Colm O'Muircheartaigh, dean of the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. "At the Harris School, and across the University of Chicago, we have leading economists, scientists, physicians, academics, and students whose research, passion and expertise in this subject matter will contribute real and lasting solutions. We are delighted to be able to participate in this important summit."
"The stakes are enormous," said Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern Worldwide, an international nongovernmental organization. "Now that the international community has accumulated extensive evidence concerning the burden, consequences and effective interventions related to malnutrition, the time to act is now."
For more information about the 1,000 Days Partnership and the importance of the 1,000 day window, visit www.thousanddays.org.