15 Citations (Scopus)


The negative impact of stunting and severe underweight on cognitive neurodevelopment of children is well documented; however, the effect of overweight/obesity is still unclear. The 2018 Global Nutrition Report reported that stunting and overweight concurrently affect 189 million children worldwide. As existing reviews discuss undernutrition and overweight/obesity separately, this scoping review aims to document the impact of mild/moderate and severe underweight, stunting, and overweight/obesity among children aged 0-60 months on their cognitive neurodevelopmental trajectories. Twenty-six articles were analysed to extract significant information from literature retrieved from PubMed and Cochrane databases published from 1 January 2009 to 31 October 2019. Length gain is associated with cognitive neurodevelopment in normo-nourished and stunted children aged under 24 months. Among stunted children, it seems that cognitive and neurodevelopmental deficits can potentially be recovered before 8 years of age, particularly in those whose nutritional status has improved. The impact of overweight/obesity on cognitive neurodevelopment appears to be limited to attention, gross motor skills and executive control. Parental education level, birth weight/length, breastfeeding duration, and sanitation level are some identifiable factors that modify the impact of undernutrition and overweight/obesity on cognitive and neurodevelopment. In conclusion, underweight, stunting and overweight/obesity have a significant impact on cognitive neurodevelopment. Multidimensional approaches with various stakeholders should address all issues simultaneously, such as improving sanitation levels, assuring parental job security and adequate social welfare, and providing access to adequate nutrients for catch-up growth among underweight or stunted children and to affordable healthy foods for those who are overweight/obese and from low socio-economic status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-149
Number of pages14
JournalNutrition Research Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2022


  • Cognition
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Obesity
  • Stunting
  • Underweight


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