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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:

    • Maintaining the visibility of adolescent health including neglected areas (e.g. nutrition, mental health and injury) and neglected groups (Indigenous young people, adolescents in contact with the justice system).
    • Map progress in adolescent health and wellbeing including investments globally and nationally.
    • Extend the evidence base for cost-effective and scalable action in adolescent health at both global and national levels.

    Current initiatives include Lancet series on growth and nutrition expected to appear in early 2021, analyses of future NCD risks (2021), analyses of injury disease burden and investment cases (2021) and a series on adolescent indigenous health for 2022.

    Lancet Series on Adolescent Growth and Nutrition

    Background and aims

    Malnutrition, including obesity and undernutrition (stunting, low weight, and micronutrient deficiencies), together with food insecurity and hunger, are leading modifiable contributors to global disease burden. Although undernutrition persists today in most low resource settings as the major nutritional problem of adolescents, obesity will become the major nutritional problem for young people in the near future.  In some regions of the world, for example Latin America, that shift has already occurred. By 2025, 124 million children and adolescents will be overweight or obese and before then obesity numbers will exceed those for moderate and severe undernutrition.

    Given that the determinants of adolescent nutrition lie across many different sectors, for this series, we have brought together diverse disciplines with understandings of nutrition, adolescent growth, learning and development, agriculture and food systems, urban design and behavioural economics.

    As part of a 5-year Lancet Standing Commission, we will outline an evidence-based framework for both research and policy investments in adolescent nutrition. 

    The 3-paper series and forecasting paper for The Lancet will:

    • Synthesise knowledge around growth and development from late childhood through to young adulthood with a particular focus on the influence of dietary and lifestyle factors
    • Analyse the effects of the changing ecology of nutrition in adolescents including the effects of urbanisation, food marketing and new media
    • Establish a policy framework for action on adolescent nutrition, extending further the investment case.

    Paper 1: Growth and nutrition across the adolescent years

    Lead authors: Shane Norris and Edward Frongillo

    The paper will synthesise latest evidence around adolescent growth and development and present both a conceptual model and case studies from regional adolescent cohorts to illustrate how nutrition in particular influences these processes.

    Paper 2: Food choice in transition:  Adolescent agency and the food environment

    Lead author: Lynnette Neufeld

    This paper will provide a framework and evidence for examining influences on adolescent food and other lifestyle behaviours that support healthy growth and development  

    Paper 3: Towards comprehensive nutrition actions for healthy adolescent growth and development

    Lead authors: Dougal Hargreaves and Purnima Menon

    This paper aims to provide evidence and guidance on the development and implementation of nutrition-related policies and interventions to support healthy growth and development of adolescents worldwide.  

    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 how this projected prevalence could be shifted under varying scenarios (e.g. intervention through dietary change and/or increases in physical activity).

    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)

    Prof Shane Norris, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

    Prof Edward Frongillo Jr, University of South Carolina, US

    Dr Dougal Hargreaves, Imperial College London, UK

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

    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.

    Key Papers

    Work in progress

    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.