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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Millenium Development Goals, Enlightened Leadership and Political Courage

By Michael McBurney

Yesterday world leaders meeting at the United Nations General Assembly called for greater efforts in achieving the Millenium Development Goals (MDG). Goals 1 (Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger), 4 (reduce child mortality) and 5 (improve maternal health) are nutrition-related. However, success will depend upon 7 (ensure environmental sustainability) and 8 (global partnership for development).

In a new report, de Morais and colleagues identify factors associated with nutritional inadequacy in free-living elderly (65-98 y) in 8 European countries (Denmark, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom). Food consumption was determined from 7 day, non-weighed food records. On average, only 2.6 servings of fruits and vegetables were consumed daily. The most frequent factors associated with nutritional status were using 30 or more prescription drugs daily (50.2%), eating alone most of the time (47.5%), and changes in their health (30.6%). The least important factors were eating fewer than 2 meals daily (5.4%) and drinking alcohol daily (7.1%).

The observation that people are not eating the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables is consistent with other European data (Bihan et al, 2011). and US data from the Iowa Women’s Health Study. In the US, Grimm and colleagues also report insufficient consumption of fruit and vegetables, especially among the poorest.

In his report “A life of Dignity for All”, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasizes the growing pressures to feed, house and provide services to a world where people are migrating into evergrowing cities. He calls upon all of us, public and private sectors, to collaborate and implement the Millenium Development Goals.

There is a world of people, young and old, who need our help. It is our time to show enlightened leadership and political courage.

Main citation

de Morais C, Oliveira B, Afonso C, Lumbers M, Raats M, de Almeida MDV. Nutritional risk of elderly. 2013 EJCN doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.175

Other citations

Bihan H, Mejean C, Castetbon K, Faure H, Ducros V, Sedeaud A, Galan P, Le Clesiau H, Peneau S, Hercberg S. Impact of fruit and vegetable vouchers and dietary advice on fruit and vegetable intake in a low-income population. 2011 EJCN doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.173

Grimm KA, Foltz JL, Blanck HM, Scanlon KS. Household income disparities in fruit and vegetable consumption by state and territory: results of the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. 2012 J Acad Nutr Diet doi:10.1016/j.and.2012.08.030