This site uses cookies to store information on your computer. Learn more x


Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


A world hungry for nutrition

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 perspectives on the nutrition challenges that are now common to all societies worldwide. It argues 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 includes contributions from some of the world’s most influential and respected experts in the field. The first section of the book sets the scene for nutrition across the globe applying a one-world approach; below is a summary of the key points discussed in this first section.

Key forces shaping the global food system

Professor Glenn Denning and Jess Fanzo discuss the ten key forces that are shaping the global food system. These include climate change, urbanization, globalization, consumer behavior, culture and tradition, government policies, conflict and fragile states, technology innovation, and sustainability. They argue that, in spite of the many challenges facing the planet, there has never been a better time to think about sustainable development.

The relationship between population growth and malnutrition

Professors Michael Klag and Parul Christian argue that the speed at which the world’s population is increasing poses a wide range of complex challenges for nutritionists, agriculturalists and public health professionals alike. They note that there will be a third more mouths to feed by 2050 and that the overall population growth will fuel the expansion of urban areas and the rise of urban populations. These developments will impact poor countries more severely than wealthy ones and family planning will be essential to curb population growth.

How to manage value chains to deliver better nutrition

Dr Shawna Downs and Professor Jess Fanzo state that there is a need to start thinking in terms of “adding vaue” in order to improve the quality of the food supply. Making value chains more nutrition-sensitive can help improve the quality of the foods that are available, affordable and acceptable. They explain the merits of value chain analysis, arguing that it can help shape policies that will reorient incentives in the food system toward the production and consumption of nutritious foods.

Dietary approaches that can deliver better nutrition

Professor Ricardo Uauy observes that changes in diet and physical acitivity levels are chiefly responsible for the recent increase in nutrition-related chronic diseases and that diet-related diseases cannot be addressed by the traditional model of single-nutrient deficiency or excess. Believing that consumers will make healthier dietary choices if they have a practical option to do so, Professor Uauy makes a strong plea for a return to diets based predominantly on plant foods, with limited processing and a restricted proportion of refined carbohydrates.

Consumer food choices

Underlining the key role played by the consumer in influencing dietary behaviors, Professor Adam Drewnowski argues that there are very practical limits to the freedom of choice available to consumers. Consumer food choices are driven by purchasing power and socioeconomic status and, while calories have become cheap, nutrients remain expensive. Eating more calories once used to mean obtaining more nutrients, but this is no longer the case. As empty calories sweep the globe, hidden hunger and obesity are no longer mutually exclusive and it is possible to be both undernourished and overweight. Professor Drewnowski argues that the food industry has an increased responsibility to ensure that the world food supply remains affordable, sustainable and nutrient-rich.

To access the new book, Good Nutrition: perspectives for the 21st century, click here.