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New Global Nutritional Challenges

New Global Nutritional ChallengesDean and international nutrition expert Eileen Kennedy talks about the need for new research into the changing issues of global nutrition.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [08.19.05] The nutritional landscape in nations ranging from the United States to Asia has changed shape over the last 50 years. With improvements in food availability and security, many regions now face a dual dilemma regarding the health and nutrition of their people: opposite conditions like malnutrition and obesity are cropping up in close proximity to one another – sometimes even in the same households.

According to Eileen Kennedy, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, the situation requires applied research to determine what steps governments can take to promote healthy living among their citizens.

“Many countries are experiencing the double burden of disease; diseases of undernutrition exist side-by-side with noncommunicable diseases,’” Kennedy wrote in an article published in The Journal of Nutrition.

Worldwide, Kennedy explained, three major factors are at play, each impacting global nutrition: a demographic, an epidemiological and a nutrition transition.

“The demographic transition has been caused by declining fertility rates and increased life expectancy,” Kennedy wrote. “This has resulted in changes in the age structure of both developing and industrialized countries.”

As populations grow older across the globe, Kennedy wrote, it has had a domino effect on diseases.

“Disease patterns worldwide are shifting from communicable to noncommunicable diseases,” Kennedy wrote. “The burden of chronic disease is increasing rapidly, including in some of the poorest countries of the world,” she added, noting that the World Health Organization predicts that chronic diseases will account for approximately 75 percent of all deaths around the world within the next 15 years.

And dietary changes are not helping, Kennedy explained.

“The nutrition transition involves populations shifting from a traditional grain-based diet to one with increased variety including more fats and sugars,” Kennedy wrote in The Journal. “The change in dietary patterns is related to urbanization. As populations shift from rural to urban living, dietary patterns diversify to include more energy dense foods. The shift in diet occurs at the same time that levels of physical activity are decreasing.”

According to Kennedy, dealing with these changes is a difficult task.

“Given the changing nutrition profile worldwide, the challenge is to identify newer paradigms for dealing with diet-related chronic diseases while simultaneously continuing to address undernutrition, food insecurity and hunger,” Kennedy wrote. “Investment in applied nutrition research is desperately needed to identify and implement effective approaches for promoting healthy lifestyles.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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