Nutrition Makes its Mark, British Style

I have been quite silent these days. I guess just too much work is my excuse. The opposite can be said for what is happening with nutrition these days. Lots happening, little silence. What a year 2013 was, and a year 2014 is shaping up to be. The call for paying more attention to nutrition is over. People are listening.

The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) meeting will be held in November. The last time this meeting took place was 1992 and serves to focus on how to address major nutrition challenges over the coming decades. Let’s see what will come of it, but we can hope, for some innovative, inclusive and action oriented progress. Those organizing the meeting do need to ensure that all the appropriate players are sitting at the table. Not just the usual nutrition suspects that attend every meeting. Get the global health experts involved. Bring in climate scientists, demographers, the education sector, economists (not just agriculture economists…) and get them thinking about solutions for nutrition, for our future. Think drivers: climate variability, loss of biodiversity, water shortages, population pressure. These drivers will have profound impacts on nutrition outcomes. Get them in the dialogue!

The Scaling Up Nutrition movement is also pressing on. There are now 49 countries that have joined the movement. Impressive. We at Columbia University just finished a study commissioned by SUN to simulate nutrition sensitive investments. The overall purpose of this study is to help decision-makers in SUN countries prioritizing key nutrition-sensitive investments across different sectors as part of their wider efforts to improve nutritional outcomes. The study combines an extensive search of the literature with quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze the relationship between actions of different sectors and nutrition-relevant outcomes. The focus is on modeling relationships between contextual factors, sectoral interventions and outcomes that are associated with child stunting, or chronic undernutrition among children under five years. Contextual factors are characteristics of the surrounding setting that are related to the effectiveness of an association. I hope the report is released in a month’s time. Keep your eye out for that.

Call it the Old Blighty, Loegria or the Old Dart, England is really pushing forward the nutrition agenda these days. The Global Nutrition report, commissioned by DFID, will be released right around the time of ICN2 and is being led by Sussex-dweller Lawrence Haddad soon to be moving on from IDS to IFPRI. What a great person to spearhead what he is calling “a one stop shop for nutrition information.”  The report will provide a comprehensive view of the status of nutrition globally and at country level with a robust review and analysis of data to interpret progress towards malnutrition reduction in general and towards agreed targets.

Save the Children UK just released a fine report examining how “nutrition can be prioritized within agricultural policies, strategies and investment plans, and demonstrates the power of agricultural bio-diversity, social behavioral change, enterprise diversification, and women’s empowerment in improving nutrition in rural areas.” You can download the report here.

More from London: The Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition is an exciting new initiative, based out of the London International Development Center, serving as the Secretariat, led by Jeff Waage, another awesome choice. The purpose of the Panel is to provide global research and policy leadership to maximize the contribution of agriculture and food systems to improve nutrition and health outcomes, particularly of women and children. Sounds cool. This work will pair nicely with the UNSCN work that I participated in this past year that examined the “nutrition sensitivity” of food and agriculture policies across 8 countries. Hopefully, that work will be published also in about a month. That leads me to another group doing interesting work on the nutrition/agriculture front: That is, ACF. They have published a number of reports both in policy and practice in the integration of nutrition and agriculture. Good stuff.

With England meeting their overseas development assistance UN target of 0.7% and their recent commitments to ending undernutrition with the UK initiated Nutrition For Growth summit, ramping up once again in Brazil this time, I think we can clearly say once more, as Joe Strummer rightfully sang, London’s calling…  

Various salsas in mexico city. Just doesn’t get better than this.

Various salsas in mexico city. Just doesn’t get better than this.

Chilled martini glasses at the Russian Vodka room.

Chilled martini glasses at the Russian Vodka room.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE! SEE YOU IN 2014…

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE! SEE YOU IN 2014…

Fries. Yum.

'Hungry Planet: What The World Eats' : NPR

The authors of a new book, Hungry Planet, set out to see how families in 24 regions feed themselves each week. They wanted to see how globalization, migration and other factors affected the diets of communities around the world.

Ethiopian woman entrepreneur selling her goods on the market. Who says change doesn’t happen? Wheels keep movin.

Ethiopian woman entrepreneur selling her goods on the market. Who says change doesn’t happen? Wheels keep movin.

Eating alone is a disappointment. But not eating matter more, is hollow and green, has thorns like a chain of fish hooks, trailing from the heart, clawing at your insides. Hunger feels like pincers, like the bite of crabs; it burns, burns, and has no fur. Let us sit down soon to eat with all those who haven’t eaten; let us spread great tablecloths, put salt in lakes of the world, set up planetary bakeries, tables with strawberries in snow, and a plate like the moon itself from which we can all eat. For now I ask no more than the justice of eating.
~ Pablo Neruda, Chilean Poet

Lifestyle nutritionists.

This year I was the recipient of the Premio Daniel Carasso for nutrition and sustainable diets. A video was made by Laurent Benhamou (Crunk video productions) of our last days in Rome. 

The Italian Feast of Seven Fishes

“All over Italy I’d ask, ‘Do you eat the seven fish on Christmas Eve?’ and the response was always, ‘We eat a lot of fish!’ And I’d say, ‘Yes, but are there seven?’ and they’d look at me like, ‘What is she trying to say?’”  Scicolone herself, whose grandparents emigrated from Naples to her birthplace here in Brooklyn, didn’t grow up with a specific number, either; it was a concept she heard about from other Italian-Americans who held firmly to the digit. “My grandfather was a fisherman, and we always ate a lot of fish on Christmas Eve,” she says, “but never seven.”

Timor Leste, on its own terms

Timor Leste is a new country. One that took almost 500 years of struggle to be so. Now, 10 years after independence, and with the UN peacekeeping pulling out, Timor Leste is on the brink of coming into its own. I had the privilege of traveling to Timor for work on an agriculture-nutrition project. I am posting photographs of some of the Timorese that I met along the way, and of course, a little of the food and landscape.

Hope on the road in Timor Leste

Hope on the road in Timor Leste