Stunting is a recognized problem: Evidence for the potential benefits of ω-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids

Nutrition. 2020 May;73:110564. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2019.110564. Epub 2019 Jul 30.


Stunting remains a major nutritional problem worldwide, especially in middle- and low-income countries including Indonesia. A number of nutritional feeding programs to cure stunting are basically addressing the problem of malnutrition. These programs are particularly designed to promote recovery of normal metabolic function and weight gain. The currently available remedial formula for malnutrition contains energy and nutrients to recover the weight, but there is less nutrition that would support optimal functional development of tissues including the central nervous system. Research has documented that sufficient intakes of dietary ω-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are important for optimal health throughout the life span, especially brain development and cognition. The aim of this study was to review the evidence for the role of food sources of these fatty acids on children's health and growth. To our knowledge, very little work has been conducted on remedial formulas enriched with ω-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids for malnutrition and optimal health, highlighting a need for intervention studies investigating the health benefits of the formula for malnutrition and optimal health, which may prevent stunting and also may promote optimal health.

Keywords: Children; Evidence; Health benefits; Stunting; ω-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Diet
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3*
  • Growth Disorders / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition* / prevention & control
  • Nutritional Status


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3