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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


A Framework for Action to Solve Nutritional Inadequacies

By Michael McBurney

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is holding its Second International Conference on Nutrition this week in Rome. In their Declaration on Nutrition, the Ministers and Representatives reaffirm the right of everyone to adequate food and fundamental right of everyone to be free of hunger. Malnutrition, including undernutrition, micronutrient inadequacies, overweight and obesity, affect individual well-being. They limit human potential and reduce productivity of individuals.

The social and economic consequences of nutritional inequalities are felt at local and national levels.  Indeed, the negative impact creates a spiral of events, making it difficult to determine cause from effect. Maguire and Monsivais studied the impact of social and economic indicators (household income, occupational social class, and highest educational qualification) on dietary inequalities in UK adults.  The data was obtained from the 2008-2011 National Diet and Nutrition Survey. Records from 1,491 adults with 26% and 22% of men and women having a university degree, respectively. The food groups studied in depth were: 1) fruit and vegetables, 2) red and processed meat, 3) non-milk extrinsic sugars, and 4) oily fish. Dietary recommendations for intakes of fruit and vegetables, oily fish, and non-milk extrinsic sugars were not met by the population.

There were significant socio-economic differences in nutritional intake:

Food Group

Education Effect:

Most minus least educated

Household Income Effect:

Highest minus lowest income

Fruit & vegetable

Daily intake (g/d) 127.7g/d

Daily Intake (g/d) 97.1g/d

Red & processed meat

Daily intake (g/d) -21.9g/d

Daily intake (g/d) -15.7g/d

Oily fish

Odds Ratio: 2.96

Odds Ratio: 4.00

Low health literacy is too common, even within rich countries like the United States, especially among older adults, minority populations, those with low socioeconomic status, and the medically underserved. Other factors, i.e. child self-efficacy, household environment, and healthy eating intentions, also food choices.  

As Dr Monsivais has said, “People who have less budget have less of a choice. There’s a real economic factor that keeps some people from making healthy food choices.”

Enrichment and fortification of foods, including complementary foods, dramatically improves nutrient intakes of many micronutrients. The world needs more people such as Dr Anna Lartey, Director of Nutrition at the FAO and 2014 recipient of the 3rd Sight and Life Nutrition Leadership Award at the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition, who is helping catapult nutrition to the top of global and national development agendas.

Please join the shared vision expressed in the ICN2 Framework for Action, to sustainably improve nutrition globally.

Main Citation

Maguire ER, Monsivais P. Socio-economic dietary inequalities in UK adults: an updated picture of key food groups and nutrients from national surveillance data. 2014 Br J Nutr doi: 10.1017/S0007114514002621

Other Citations

Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (2008) The nutritional wellbeing of the British population, London:  TSO.

How can Health Care Organizations Become More health Literate ? Workshop Summary. 2012 The National  Academies, Washington DC

Dorota M. Zarnowiecki, Natalie Parletta and James Dollman. The role of socio-economic position as a moderator of children's healthy food intake. British Journal of Nutrition. doi:10.1017/S0007114514001354