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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Good Nutrition_book blog 2

Nutrition, health and economic status

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. The first section of the book sets the scene for nutrition across the globe applying a one-world approach. The second part of the book considers the economic drivers of malnutrition and the relationship between nutrition quality and quality of health.

The costs and causes of malnutrition

Professor Susan Horton, University of Waterloo, points out that nutritional status can no longer automatically be expected to improve with increased income and that targeted public health investments are essential to enhance the nutritional status of many populations around the world. Even high-income countries face issues of ‘hidden hunger’ and the growing rate of obesity is a ‘one-world’ issue facing rich and poor countries alike. Professor William A. Masters, Tufts University, highlights that, for most people, nutritious foods are more widely available and affordable than ever before, yet malnutrition remains the world’s leading cause of death and disability. Malnutrition is difficult to eradicate, but by identifying the causes of malnutrition, economic analysis can help guide interventions and support changes that foster better nutrition.

New paradigms in the treatment and management of NCDs

Turning the focus away from economics and towards public health policy, Dr Henry Greenberg and Professor Richard J. Deckelbaum, both of Columbia University Medical Center, argue that there is an urgent need for new paradigms in the treatment and management of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). These diseases which include, for instance, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, have many risk factors, and lifestyle-altering interventions are necessary to mitigate them. NCDs are very difficult to manage with traditional health measures, but innovative interventions do exist, and can be effectively implemented. Dr Greenberg and Professor Deckelbaum argue that, in order to reduce the prevalence of NCDs, public health professionals should engage more actively in the shaping of policies that influence health. The food industry should also be encouraged to offer a portfolio of nutritious food products and food supplements to fill the nutrient gaps.

The Mediterranean diet

The benefits of the Mediterranean diet were first attested in the ‘Seven Countries Study’, a study directed by the American scientist Ancel Keys during the 1950s. The Mediterranean diet offers a range of potential health benefits, reducing susceptibility to cardiovascular disease and supporting the prevention and/or treatment of a variety of noncommunicable diseases. This form of diet occurs in various parts of the globe characterized by a Mediterranean-type climate. No other dietary pattern has such a strong evidential base as the Mediterranean diet to support its benefits on cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other major chronic diseases.

Following an educational reading on the nutritional challenges faced globally, this chapter provides a detailed look into the importance of nutritious food and food quality to ensure optimized health.

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