Scientific Study: Max Foundation Halves Child Undernutrition

The renowned international Karolinska Institutet validates Max Foundation's programme success on improving child undernutrition in Bangladesh. The featured study, published in the journal Children, showcases significant impact, halving undernutrition in children in just four years, which is much faster than the national trend.

The Global Child Health Challenge
Chronic undernutrition is a public health challenge in low- and middle-income countries. A key measure of undernutrition is stunting, meaning a child is too short for their age. Stunting affects almost 22% of children around the world and is largely irreversible. Stunted children fall sick more often, miss opportunities to learn, perform less well in school and grow up to be economically disadvantaged, and are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases.


Max Foundation’s Innovative Approach
Max Foundation, an international development organisation dedicated to improving child health, has been at the forefront of addressing childhood stunting through its comprehensive Healthy Village approach. The approach integrates water, sanitation, and hygiene with nutrition and care interventions, targeting the root causes of child stunting. It mobilises and strengthens local government officials, entrepreneurs and communities to create sustainable system change for reducing undernutrition. 

Remarkable Results

A recent scientific study, conducted by researchers from the renowned Karolinska Institutet, analysed 130,000 height and weight measurements of 20,000 under-five children between 2018 and 2021. The study found that stunting rates in the Healthy Village programme areas decreased from 51% in 2018 to 25% in 2021, halving the prevalence in just four years. The study confirmed the programme effectively supported low-income families, whose children saw the biggest improvements in the reduction of stunting. The large number of growth measurements and children included in the study make the results significant.  The study is featured in the journal Children, meaning it has potential for high impact and provides an important outlook for future research directions. 

Next Steps

Max Foundation is committed to expanding its efforts, aiming to replicate the programme and results globally. They will continue to collaborate with communities, local governments and international partners to scale up their successful programme. 

About Max Foundation
Max Foundation is an international development organisation, their programmes serve as ‘design lab’, evidencing and scaling innovative solutions with the ultimate goal of improved child health. Their operations extend to vulnerable communities across the globe, with a current focus on Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Burundi. For more information about Max Foundation and the Healthy Village approach, visit

Here is a summary of the findings.

About Karolinska Institutet
Karolinska Institutet is one of the world’s leading medical universities and is based in Stockholm, Sweden. It is dedicated to advancing knowledge about life and strives towards better health for all. It is one of the largest and most prestigious medical universities in the world. The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet selects the Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine. 


Reference: Sin, M.P., Forsberg, B.C., Peterson, S.S., & Alfvén, T. (2024). Assessment of Childhood Stunting Prevalence over Time and Risk Factors of Stunting in the Healthy Village Programme Areas in Bangladesh. Children, 11, 650.