Lancet Standing Commission on adolescent health and wellbeing

  • Lancet Standing Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing

    The 2016 report of the Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing was published shortly after the launch of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, and became a focal point for global discussions around adolescent health evidence and gaps. It presented a comprehensive and integrated perspective on adolescent health needs, together with a synthesis of existing evidence on effective responses.

    The Commission made six recommendations around better tracking of health needs, promotion of more effective health service system and inter-sectoral responses, and ensuring the development of frameworks for accountability that included the participation and engagement of young people themselves.

    The Lancet proposed a Standing Commission, with the following objectives:

    • Expand the meaningful participation of young people as part of the Standing Commission’s work (Lancet Youth Network)
      • Develop the capacity of academics and advocates worldwide to maintain the visibility of, and monitor progress in, adolescent health
        • Grow an evidence base for cost-effective actions to improve adolescent health that could be taken to scale at country and sub-national levels
        • Outline sustainable and scalable strategies for action through partnerships with other initiatives and sectors
        • Generate knowledge for action through new evidence designed to improve policies and programs around neglected aspects of adolescent health

        Current initiatives include a Lancet series on adolescent nutrition (2021), analyses of future NCD risks (2022), analyses of injury disease burden and investment cases (2022) and a Lancet series on adolescent Indigenous health (2023).

        Lancet Series on Adolescent Nutrition


        This Lancet Series synthesises knowledge on the role of nutrition in adolescent growth, the drivers of adolescent food choice, and provides recommendations to reverse the trends and achieve better nutrition outcomes for this generation. It brings researchers from the nutrition and adolescent health sectors together with young advocates to present the current state of knowledge. It extend the  calls from the 2016 Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing and a 2018 Call to Action, signed by over 100 organizations, to address a neglect of adolescent nutrition in policy.

        Paper 1: Nutrition in adolescent growth and development

        Lead authors: Shane Norris and Edward Frongillo 

        This paper highlights the role of nutrition in the growth and maturation of major physiological systems in adolescence. Poor nutrition affects the physical and cognitive capabilities acquired with consequences for health and productivity across the life-course, and into the next generation. The paper also highlights gaps in knowledge including a focus on single facets of adolescent growth rather than the inter-connections between physiological systems. Read the paper.

        Paper 2: Food choice in transition: adolescent autonomy, agency, and the food environment

        Lead author: Lynnette Neufeld

        This paper addresses the drivers of food choices, exploring the interactions among adolescent agency, autonomy, cultural context, and the food environment.  The diversity and quality of available and affordable food differs vasty across countries, as does the scope for dietary choice. Food environments are shifting quickly almost everywhere with economic development, urbanisation, and changes in the food industry and agriculture. They may offer adolescents more food options, but social desirability, convenience, taste, and affordability rather than nutritional value commonly determine food choice. Read the paper.

        Paper 3: Strategies and interventions for healthy adolescent growth, nutrition, and development

        Lead authors: Dougal Hargreaves, Emily Mates and Purnima Menon 

        This paper examines the actions needed to create healthy adolescent food environments, including the roles that young people themselves may play in enhancing nutrition. To date, adolescent programs have overwhelmingly emphasised single actions, such as weekly iron folic acid supplementation, rather than tackling the multiple drivers of adolescent food choice and nutritional status.  Adolescent nutrition policy and programming will differ across food environments but in all places, needs to be intersectoral, with action across schools, social protection, health services, food retailers, local communities and families. Read the paper.

        Forecasting paper: Modelling trends in adolescent obesity, implications for population health, and potential impacts of interventions to 2040 

        Lead author: Jess Kerr, Dot Dumuid, Kate Francis, Peter Azzopardi, George Patton 

        This paper, will (1) provide contemporary estimates of the prevalence of underweight and overweight/obesity for adolescents at global, regional and national levels and describe transitions that have occurred since 1990 to 2017; (2) model the implications of these contemporary overweight and obesity estimates on population health and disease burden, and (3) model the prevalence of adolescent overweight and obesity to 2040 and demonstrate how  projected prevalence could change through for example  intervention to diet and/or increases in physical activity. 

        Series launch

        On Tuesday 30th November, the Lancet series on adolescent nutrition was successfully launched with a virtual 90-minute event, that was co-hosted by The Lancet, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. The launch was a side event of the Nutrition for Growth Summit.

        The recording of the launch is available on The Lancet’s YouTube:

        The Lancet series on adolescent nutrition, which contains three papers and two commentaries, can be read here:

        Co-leads and collaborators

        Prof George Patton, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, University of Melbourne, Australia

        Dr Lynnette Neufeld, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Switzerland

        Prof Shane Norris, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

        Prof Edward Frongillo Jr, University of South Carolina, USA

        Dr Dougal Hargreaves, Imperial College London, UK

        Dr Purnima Menon, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), India

        Emily Mates, Emergency Nutrition Network, UK

        Mariam Naguib, Youth Commissioner, Lancet Standing Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing, Canada

        Shanshan He, Youth Commissioner, Lancet Standing Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing, China

        Surabhi Dogra, Youth Commissioner, Lancet Standing Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing, India


        Foundation Botnar with support from the Wellcome Trust. 

        Further information

        For further information please contact Prof George Patton.

        Digital media

        Further information on can be found on the AdolescentsOurFuture website.

        Follow the Commission on Twitter.

        Additional information about the Commission can be found on The Lancet website.