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Double burden of malnutrition, sight and lifeThe double burden of malnutrition (DBM) is an epidemic that has, and continues to, impact the lives of millions of people worldwide. In response to the increasing burden on populations, and to move the DBM agenda forward, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) organized the International Symposium on ‘Understanding the Double Burden of Malnutrition for Effective Interventions’, within the context of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016–2025.

This event attracted representatives from over 90 countries worldwide and spurred global action to tackle this growing problem. The resources highlighting key conclusions and outlining ways to reduce the DBM were identified during the symposium are now available. These resources include 1) the symposium report which provides a general overview of all sessions and side events, 2) a brochure outlining key opportunities to reduce the DBM and 3) the symposium proceedings published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism.

The proceedings of thirteen papers highlight the preconception period and the first 1,000 days of life, accurate assessment of different aspects of the DBM, regional examples of programmes and policies, ways to bridge from biology to implementation and indicate research gaps.

During the symposium, Klaus Kraemer presented at the panel session on “Bridging the evidence – how to strengthen the link between biology and implementation for sustainable action?” which served as the basis for a publication in the symposium proceedings published as special issue in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. Sight and Life also organised a 2-hour working group on harnessing public and private sector engagement for improved nutrition (in all forms) and can read about the details here on the Sight and Life blog or a review on the workshop can be found here on page 29. Additionally, the Sight and Life magazine focused on the double burden of malnutrition can be found here

For more information including the recorded livestream consult the symposium website, or contact us at for any questions or feedback.

Opening session of the International Symposium on the Double Burden of Malnutrition. Photo credit: Dean Calma, IAEA
Participants collecting information on the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Programme. Photo credit: IAEA
Participants discussing new research at the poster sessions. Photo credit: IAEA

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GAIN, Report, nutritionBeing able to track and measure the impact of business on food and diets is critical. Business is both part of the problem and the solution to the current food systems challenges. By increasing the effectiveness of tracking we will be better positioned to ask and assist businesses to be agents for positive change.
To better assess the impact of the private sector actions, an increasing number of accountability mechanisms have been created. These ‘accountability mechanisms’ engage in measuring and reporting business impact on nutrition and can take different forms: bringing companies around a table to collaborate, creating peer accountability, encouraging companies to set and track progress towards goals and even ranking company performance against objective criteria.
‘A Review of Business Accountability Mechanisms in Nutrition’ is an insightful new report describing the different mechanisms and how they fit into the wider nutrition landscape. It is a laudable step to better understand the limits and opportunities of the current landscape assessment of business impact on nutrition.
The key findings of the report are the following:

– The number of accountability mechanisms – 21 (considered in the report) – looking at business impact on nutrition is high and increasing. Companies find it difficult to manage this crowded landscape and efficiently prioritizing their accountability reporting. We could simplify this.

– Accountability mechanisms often collect similar data. By cooperating on the process of data collection, mechanisms could provide comparable and complementary analysis. Data sharing is a way to streamline.

– The entirety of the food systems should be assessed if we want to identify the levers for improvement. The current focus on manufacturers and processors is too limited. The role of retailers and out-of-home sector has been overlooked. We need to broaden the footprint.

The report highlights the need to strike a balance: between overcomplication which deters clear reporting, and too loose, failing to responsibly reflect performance. There is an optimal level of accountability and we clearly have some way to go to achieve that.
Click HERE to read the full report by GAIN.

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On January 17, 2019, the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, and Health released a groundbreaking report on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. This is the first full scientific review of what constitutes a healthy diet from a sustainable food systems perspective, and which actions can support and speed up food system transformation. 

The world currently has 821 million people who are undernourished, 2 billion people lack key micronutrients, and 2 billion people are overweight or obese and at risk of diseases related to overconsumption. At the same time, global food systems face the unprecedented challenge of feeding a growing and increasingly urbanized population, with global food production expected to increase by 70% by 2050.

Food systems are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), accounting for one-third of total emissions. They are the main user of fresh water, a leading driver of biodiversity loss, land-use change and cause eutrophication or dead zones in lakes and coastal areas. The composition of diets also determines the environmental impact of food and global average dietary GHG emissions from crop and livestock production will increase by 32% between 2009 and 2050, on a per capita level, if current global dietary patterns continue. 

Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement targets to reduce carbon emissions means urgently and fundamentally changing the way we eat and produce food. But key questions remain unanswered and a lack of scientific consensus is slowing down governments, businesses and civil society actors who want to take action. This report endeavors to understand and address these issues, and provide guidance on how to solve them. 

Download and read the full report here

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For the very first time, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report is published by an expanded partnership with UNICEF and WHO now joining FAO, IFAD and WFP. The 2017 SOFI report reveals that the long-term declining trend in undernutrition seems to have come to a halt and may have reversed. Achieving the target of a world without malnutrition and hunger by 2030 will be a challenge and will require renewed efforts through new ways of working.

 “World hunger is on the rise: the estimated number of undernourished people increased from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016”

Other key messages from the report:

The food security situation has worsened in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, South-Eastern Asia and Western Asia, and deteriorations have been observed particularly in areas of conflict and conflict combined with floods or droughts.

Childhood overweight and obesity are increasing in most regions, and in all regions for adults. Multiple forms of malnutrition coexist, with countries experiencing simultaneously high rates of child undernutrition, anaemia among women, and adult obesity.

Conflict is a key driver of situations of severe food crisis and recently re-emerged famines, while hunger and undernutrition are considerably worse where conflicts are prolonged and institutional capacities weak.

A conflict-sensitive approach should be adopted to address food insecurity and malnutrition in areas affected by conflict. This approach should align actions for long-term development and peace and immediate humanitarian assistance.

You can download the 2017 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report by clicking here and the executive summary of the report here. Also available on YouTube is a video from IFPRI‘s special event “Discussion on the Key Findings of FAO’s 2017 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report“. 



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This leading report is a call to action for business leaders and makes a compelling case as to why businesses should pursue growth in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. Although the report does not explicitly refer to nutrition, it does lay out the top market opportunity areas in the domain of food and agriculture, of which four out of ten are related to nutrition, namely: reducing food waste in the value chain; developing [healthy] food markets for the low-income consumer; reducing consumer food waste; and product reformulation. The report recommends six actions that business leaders need to apply to appreciate these opportunities: 

01. Build support for the Global Goals as the right growth strategy in their companies and across the business community

02. Incorporate the Global Goals into company strategy

03. Drive the transformation to sustainable markets with sector peers

04. Work with policy-makers to pay the true cost of natural and human resources

05. Push for a financial system oriented towards longer-term sustainable investment and

06. Rebuild the Social Contract.

“ Achieving the Global Goals opens up market opportunities in food and agriculture, cities, energy and materials, as well as health and wellbeing”

An excellent reference work for those seeking sustainable partnerships, this stimulating publication can be downloaded from:

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Evidence suggests that the health sector will only make up 20% of the efforts needed to reduce the burden of malnutrition by means of nutrition-specific interventions. Reducing sustained rates of malnutrition requires joint action between the health, agriculture, social protection, and education sectors.

While these sectors clearly must collaborate, the impact pathways from production, social protection and natural resource management to dietary intake, care practices and health are long and differ significantly between regions, socioeconomic groups, and within households. As such, it is important to identify ways to measure what difference “nutrition-sensitive” interventions are making and how these can be improved. The compendium aims to support those responsible for designing nutrition-sensitive food and agricultural investments to select appropriate indicators to measure whether, and if so via which pathways, investments are contributing to improved nutrition. It features a list of indicators, including a description of what each indicator measures, when it is relevant and how data is collected and analyzed, along with related technical resources.

“ There is no magic recipe for multisectoral action. Nutrition specific and nutrition-sensitive programs, together with changes in the underlying determinants and the enabling environment, all have important roles to play. When they come together in a virtuous circle, they can lead to significant improvements in people’s nutrition status.” – Global Nutrition Report, 2014

A PDF file of the publication can be downloaded here.







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A Practical Guidebook on Increasing Nutritional Impact Through Integration of WASH and Nutrition Programs

WASH’ Nutrition is an outstanding resource for implementers who are thirsty for practical guidance on the integration of WASH and nutrition at the field level. This comprehensive guidebook launched by Action Contre la Faim not only encourages the design of new integrated projects but also provides support for reinforcing existing integrated interventions, and gives much room for context-based design and implementation. 

The report describes the practical implementation of integrated activities at different levels (household, community, national) and in different settings (schools, nutrition and health centers). It also puts forward a framework for monitoring and evaluation with related indicators, and covers advocacy for WASH and nutrition integration, capacity-building and communication. A collection of examples and practical tools extrapolated from case studies is available at the end of the report to help with integration efforts.

“Addressing undernutrition and meeting the 2025 Global Nutrition Targets will require a multisectoral approach with a strengthened focus on improving WASH […] No child ought to suffer from undernutrition, and through smart, targeted joint action on WASH and nutrition, millions of deaths can be prevented” – Zita Weise Prinzo, Nutrition for Health and Development, WHO, and Margaret Montgomery, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WHO 

The report can be accessed here



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IFPRI’s flagship report reviews the major food policy issues, developments, and decisions of 2016, and highlights challenges and opportunities for 2017 at the global and regional levels. The 2017 Global Food Policy Report provides a comprehensive overview of major food policy developments and events. In this sixth edition, leading researchers, practitioners and policy-makers look back at what happened regionally and globally in food policy in 2016 and why, and reflect on what to expect in the coming year. 

This year’s report focuses on the challenges and opportunities brought about by rapid urbanization for nutrition and food security, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Drawing on recent research, IFPRI researchers and other distinguished food policy experts consider a range of timely questions:

> What do we know about the impact of urbanization on hunger and nutrition? 

> What are our greatest research and data needs for better policy-making that will ensure food security and improve diets for growing urban populations?

> How can we better connect rural smallholders to urban food consumers so as to ensure that smallholders benefit from expanding urban food markets?

> Why do city environments drive a nutrition transition toward poorer diets, and what policies can improve the nutrition environment?

> How are urban areas reshaping agricultural value chains for staple crops and benefiting small farmers?

> What role do informal markets play in feeding cities, and how can they be better governed to increase urban food security?

The online version of the report also provides a very helpful tool to compare performance across multiple indicators and countries across the globe. The tool includes a variety of data sets, including data on investments in agricultural research; public spending in agriculture; food policy research capacity; international model for policy analysis of agricultural commodities and trade; and agricultural total factor productivity, as well as a hunger index at the country level. Have a look at the widget here.

The complete report 2017 Global Food Policy Report can be downloaded here





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“If countries don’t know what makes people get sick and die, it’s a lot harder to know what to do about it” – Dr Marie-Paule Kieny

Produced by the WHO Department of Information, Evidence and Research, of the Health Systems and Innovation Cluster, in collaboration with all relevant WHO technical departments, the World Health Statistics report is one of WHO’s annual flagship publications and compiles health statistics for its 194 Member States. This year’s edition brings together a wide range of indicators that are relevant to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It provides a snapshot of both gains for, and threats to, the health of the world’s population.

The report is organized in three parts:

> Part 1 describes six lines of action which WHO is now promoting to help build better systems for health and to achieve the health and health-related SDGs.

> Part 2 summarizes the status of selected health-related SDG indicators at both global and regional level, based on data available as at early 2017.

> Part 3 presents a selection of stories that highlight recent successful efforts by countries to improve and protect the health of their populations through one or more of the six lines of action.

> Finally, Annexes A and B present country-level estimates for selected health-related SDG indicators.

Although the quality of health data has significantly improved over the past few years, many countries still do not routinely collect high-quality data to monitor health-related SDG indicators.

Progress towards the nutrition-related SDG target is outlined below:

Target 2.2: By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under five years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons:

> 22.9% of children under five were stunted, ranging from 6.1% in the European region to 33.8% in the Southeast Asian region.

> 6.0% of children under five were overweight, ranging from 4.1% in the African region to 12.8% in the European region.

You can read the report here.


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Few challenges facing the global community today match the scale of malnutrition, a condition that directly affects one in three people. Malnutrition manifests itself in many different ways: as poor child growth and development; as individuals who are skin and bone or prone to infection; as those who are carrying too much weight or whose blood contains too much sugar, salt, fat, or cholesterol; or those who are deficient in important vitamins or minerals. Malnutrition and diet are by far the biggest risk factors for the global burden of disease: every country is facing a serious public health challenge from malnutrition.

The economic consequences represent losses of 11 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) every year in Africa and Asia, whereas preventing malnutrition delivers $16 in returns on investment for every $1 spent. The world’s countries have agreed on targets for nutrition, but despite some progress in recent years the world is off track to reach those targets. This third stocktaking of the state of the world’s nutrition points to ways to reverse this trend and end all forms of malnutrition by 2030.

Over the past decade, momentum around nutrition has been steadily building, with governments and stakeholders around the world acknowledging nutrition as a key component of development. In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals enshrined the objective of “ending all forms of malnutrition”, challenging the world to think and act differently on malnutrition—to focus on all its faces and work to end it, for all people, by 2030.

The Global Nutrition Report is the only independent and comprehensive annual review of the state of the world’s nutrition. It is a multipartner initiative that holds a mirror up to our successes and failures at meeting intergovernmental nutrition targets. It documents progress on commitments made on the global stage, and it recommends actions to accelerate that progress. The Global Nutrition Report aims to be a beacon, providing examples of change and identifying opportunities for action. This year’s report focuses on the theme of making—and measuring— SMART commitments to nutrition and identifying what it will take to end malnutrition in all its forms by 2030.

Download the complete report here





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The new Global Nutrition Report says all country leaders must take urgent action to end malnutrition in all its forms – with a particular focus on stunting, wasting, adult obesity and Type 2 diabetes
Global nutrition report

Launched in 2014 and driven by the aim to build greater commitment to improved nutrition in all countries, the Global Nutrition Report provided the world’s first comprehensive summary and scorecard on both global and country level progress on all forms of nutrition for 193 countries

The latest edition of this cornerstone publication was released on 22 September in New York.

The 2015 report not builds and reflects on new opportunities, actions, progress, accountability, and data for nutrition, but also shines a light on nutrition’s capacity to drive change or block progress.

Focusing on interventions for globally-sustainable, nutrition-led policies, new findings and recommendations introduced in the report include:

  • The critical relationship between climate change and nutrition
  • A focus on the roles of business and how it can play a pivotal role
  • Fresh data covering all forms of malnutrition – from under nutrition in young children to nutrition-related non-communicable diseases in adults, and from stunting to obesity

Among other key findings, the report notes not only that one in three members of the global population is malnourished, but also that the problem exists in every country.

However, it says, the high-impact interventions available to resolve it are not being implemented due to lack of money, skills, or political pressure.  

“When one in three of us is held back, we as families, communities, and nations cannot move forward,” said Lawrence Haddad, lead author of the study and senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). 

“This not only jeopardizes the lives of those who are malnourished, but also affects the larger framework for economic growth and sustainable development,” he says.

According to the report, childhood stunting and wasting remain serious problems, with more stunting impacting more than 160 million children worldwide under five years of age, and wasting another 50 million, while the prevalence of adult obesity is rising globally.

To read The Global Nutrition Report 2015, please click HERE.