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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Month 5 week 8

Transforming the nutrition landscape

By Manfred Eggersdorfer

A DSM- and Sight and Life Foundation-led editorial board has launched a new book, Good Nutrition: Perspectives for the 21st Century, to provide the latest insights on the nutrition challenges that are now common to all societies worldwide. The first three sections of the book set the scene for nutrition across the globe and consider the economic drivers of malnutrition, outlining the different ways in which the world’s food systems can be made more sustainable. Chapter four focuses on the methods that can help ensure nutritional wellbeing is at its best and address malnutrition. The fifth and final section of the book introduces a range of proven solutions that have the power to generate positive change.

Paving the way to better population health

Professor Michael Gibney and Dr Marianne Walsh, both of University College Dublin, together with Jo Goossens on behalf of the Food4Me Consortium, argue that one of the biggest challenges facing global nutrition is how to change eating and behavior patterns to produce better health in any given individual and achieve lasting habits that are beneficial for health. Personalized nutrition of this sort represents an opportunity to achieve optimal health and will support self-realization, both within the realm of health and beyond it.

Access to nutrition-rich diets for all

Nutrient requirements are frequently not met due to the limited availability and affordability of adequately diverse diets that include plant-source, animal-source and fortified foods, explain Saskia de Pee, Lynnda Kiess, Regina Moench-Pfanner and Martin Bloem all of the World Food Programme. A wealth of evidence already exists about the need to meet nutrient requirements and how to do so, however, they argue more information needs to be collected that looks at the impact of combining nutrient-specific and nutrient-sensitive interventions.

Professor Peter Weber of the University of Stuttgart-Hohenheim goes on to demonstrate how access to a nutritious diet isn’t only an issue for low-income groups. A growing body of evidence indicates that micronutrient deficiencies exist in the developed world, as well as the developing world. Professor Weber concludes that the same level of attention that is currently given to overnutrition in the developed world should be given to undernutrition and the appropriate changes made to public health policies and programs.

Nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions

Tom Arnold, recently retired ad interim coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, discusses how tackling malnutrition is a multi-faceted challenge that requires a genuine partnership driven by passionate leadership at the highest levels. He argues defeating malnutrition is the new normal and that SUN countries are proving alliances comprising critical sectors and committed stakeholders can transform nutrition.

Good governance and delivering good nutrition

A number of factors contribute to effective governance, including leadership, advocacy, a legal framework, stakeholder involvement and enduring commitment. Professor Eileen Kennedy of Tufts University and Dr Habtamu Fekadu of Save the Children explain how good governance is essential for the development and implementation of effective policy and programs. The authors conclude that good leadership at all levels is a prerequisite for sustaining the momentum of effective nutrition campaigns.

Measuring for success

Most countries are currently not on track to meet the global nutrition targets agreed by the World Health Assembly in 2013. Maria Elena D. Jefferds and Professor Rafael Flores-Ayala, both of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, provide their thoughts on the various frameworks that exist to guide the development, implementation and evaluation of nutrition programs and systems. 

The critical role of food safety

Dr Dave Crean of Mars, Incorporated and Dr Amare Ayalew of the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa, discuss how today’s global food supply chains make the food safety landscape more complex and challenging than ever before. Food safety management has not kept pace with this development and, without safe food, the world will not achieve global food security and improved nutrition. Collaboration among all stakeholders is required to leverage the right food safety knowledge, risk management methods and interventions across the global food supply chain.

Putting Sustainable Development Goals into practice

Dr Achim Dobermann of Rothamsted Research makes it clear that the new Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) and their targets provide a framework for all countries to develop roadmaps for sustainable development in all its dimensions. Transformative changes will be required around how food is produced, processed and consumed in order to meet multiple needs. Dr Dobermann argues that, in order to ensure that ground-breaking innovations are developed and widely accessible to all farmers, agro-food systems will need to be managed with greater precision and a long-term investment in public R&D will be required.

The insights provided throughout Good Nutrition: Perspectives for the 21st Century highlight the range of nutritional challenges faced by different regions across the globe, and the contrasts and commonalities between societies.

The book presents the argument that the case for good nutrition for all people, in all parts of the globe and throughout the entire life-cycle, is growing stronger, and clearly outlines the actions that need to be taken worldwide to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To access Good Nutrition: Perspectives for the 21st Century, which has been written by a number of senior academics and professionals to ensure valuable and scientifically-supported insights, click here.     

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