BIOFORTIFICATION: a recently invented term to describe the nutrient enrichment of basic food crops through modern plant breeding, both traditional and molecular. Whilst many would argue that dietary diversification is the best way to ensure an adequate intake of both macro- and micronutrients, the grim reality is that a significant portion of the developing worlds population relies largely on one or more of the major cereals (rice, wheat, maize) for their nutrition. As a result, deficiencies in essential micronutrients and vitamins are endemic in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Studies have shown that modern plant breeding is one of the cheapest, most effective and sustainable ways of supplying these needed nutrients through enrichment of staple food grains. Biofortification is not a panacea in itself but a very important complement to dietary variety and to supplementation.
FOOD FORTIFICATION: fortification is defined by the Codex Alimentarius as the addition of one or more essential nutrients to a food, whether or not it is normally contained in the food, for the purpose of preventing or correcting a demonstrated deficiency of one or more nutrients in the population or specific population groups. This means that nutrients not naturally found in that particular food have been added during processing to enhance the consumer's diet.
FOOD INSECURITY: a situation that exists when people lack secure access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development of an active and healthy life. It may be caused by the unavailability of food, insufficient purchasing power, inappropriate distribution, or inadequate use of food at the household level. Food insecurity, poor conditions of health and sanitation, and inappropriate care and feeding practices are the major causes of poor nutritional status. Food insecurity may be either chronic, seasonal or transitory.
HEALTH: a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infermity.
MALNUTRITION: an abnormal physiological condition caused by deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in energy, protein and/or other nutrients.
MICRONUTRIENT MALNUTRITION: micronutrients are substances that are needed by the body in very small amounts because they can not be synthesized in the body. This means that they must be provided by the diet. These micronutrients are essential for the body to maintain its normal functions.
NUTRITIONAL STATUS: the physiological state of people that results from a combination of food intake, care practices and health and sanitation conditions.
OVERNUTRITION: result of excessive food intake; manifestations include overweight, obesity and poor health status.
UNDERNUTRITION: result of prolonged low level of food intake and/or absorption of food consumed; manifestations include wasting, stunting or underweight, reduced cognitive ability, poor health status and low productivity.
UNDERWEIGHT: low weight-for-age in children, and body mass index less than 18.5 in adults, reflecting a current condition resulting from inadequate food intake, past episodes of undernutrition and/or poor health conditions.