New FAO publication: "Human Nutrition in the Developing World"

"Human Nutrition in the Developing World", an important new FAO textbook and reference work, brings together under one cover encyclopaedic knowledge on the subject, and puts nutrition into the broader context of human development.

The 508-page book is written not only for universities and training andtechnical institutions, but also for public policy-makers and programme planners and managers at economic, agriculture and health ministries. It is illustrated with 24 figures, 52 tables, 86 photographs and five annexes including recommended intakes, anthropometric data, nutrient content of selected food, an index and a selected bibliography.

An important theme that runs through the book is that investing in people is just as important as investing in infrastructure. A well nourished child can learn better. A well nourished adult can produce more. The emphasis in "Human Nutrition in the Developing World" is therefore on human development.

"This book highlights not only the linkage between nutrition and health, but also the economic, social and food basis of nutrition," said Dr John Lupien, Director of the FAO Food and Nutrition Division.

The book provides scientifically based information on food, nutrients, causes of malnutrition, and nutritional disorders and their prevention. It emphasizes that many developing countries can improve their food supplies, employment opportunities and raise both national and individual incomes through better development of their agricultural resources. This could lead to dietary and nutritional improvements among low-income families, directly, or through increased social sector spending made possible by greater national and community wealth. It also points out that where malnutrition is widespread, food-based approaches are the only sustainable way to improve the nutritional status of all.

The text summarizes key points in human nutrition and provides information about proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins, with special emphasis on nutritional needs of infants, children, mothers and the elderly. Basic information about foods commonly found in the diets of Africans, Asians and Latin Americans is given.

The author, Michael Latham, Professor of International Nutrition at Cornell University in New York, United States, wrote another popular FAO book on nutrition in tropical Africa that was first published in 1965. The International Conference on Nutrition (ICN), sponsored jointly by FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1992, served as a catalyst for a new, expanded version of the book.

The ICN, attended by ministers and plenipotentiaries of 159 nations, and the 1996 World Food Summit (WFS), attended by heads of state and government and other senior officials of 186 countries, have provided a framework for policies and programmes that will help ease the suffering of the 800 million undernourished people in the world.

"Human Nutrition in the Developing World" fills in that framework with a comprehensive overview of nutritional problems in developing countries divided into five parts - causes of malnutrition, basic nutrition, disorders of malnutrition, foods, and nutritional policies and programmes.

The book makes it clear that poverty and social discrimination are the most important causes of food insecurity and malnutrition. However, it offers cost-effective ways to improve dietary intakes and nutritional status by strengthening local food systems, improving sanitation and health care, especially of the poor and nutritionally vulnerable, and by improving overall care and feeding practices.

Human nutrition in the developing world, FAO Food and Nutrition Series No. 29, FAO, Rome, 1997. 508 pp. ISBN 92-5-103818-X. Price US$52.00. To order, contact FAO Sales and Marketing Group, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy, or E-mail Publications-sales@FAO.Org.

30 April 1998

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