Program of Work
219. the Conference considered the FAO program in nutrition, food technology and home economics. As regards nutrition, the following activities are a central part of the program the appraisal of the existing food situation in countries and regions and the establishment of food production and consumption targets; the improvement of methods to determine, as accurately as possible, nutritional requirements and the nutritive value of food consumed; the development of special measures to improve nutrition. Food technology is of great importance in ensuring that the best possible use is made, from the nutritional standpoint, of available food supplies and in developing measures which would reduce losses during the storage, processing and cooking of food. The major objective of activities falling under the head of home economics is to improve conditions in the home, to help families to make effective use of available resources and to increase their capacity for applying improved agricultural methods.
220. Direct assistance is provided to Member Governments in all of these fields both through the ordinary program and through the Technical Assistance Program. FAO work in nutrition is closely co-ordinated with WHO work in this field. It is essential that there be collaboration between the various UN agencies in the field of nutrition as well as home economics.
221. The Conference expressed its satisfaction with the work accomplished, and approved of the general lines of the future program, noting that these were in accord with the recommendations of the Working on the Program of Work and Associated Long-term Problems and of the Joint FAO/ WHO Expert Committee on Nutrition. It considered, however, that the home economics program could well be expanded, especially in relation to extension and other educational services.
Requirements of Calories and Nutrients
222. The report of the Committee on Calorie Requirements clearly and systematically presents a valuable method of approach to the problem in its various aspects. The recommendations contained in the report, as the Committee itself emphasized, are tentative in nature and open to adjustment on the basis of data available or obtainable in different countries.
223. The Conference hoped that governments, through the appropriate technical departments or officers, would give careful attention to the findings of the report, undertake special studies if necessary, and provide FAO with all relevant information. It noted that the calorie requirements of adults at different periods of life were of particular interest. Further careful study, on a national basis, of the problem of calorie requirements in general, and in relation to the findings of the FAO report in particular, would gradually clarify the many difficult questions involved and make it possible, in due course, to reach more fully established conclusions.
224. Considerable importance was attached to the problem of protein requirements which FAO proposed to study in collaboration with WHO. In spite of the complexity of the subject, there was a practical need for even tentative recommendations. The Conference approved the Director-General's proposal to convene in 1952, in conjunction with WHO, an expert group to consider possible approaches to the problem. It was essential that careful preparations be made for the meeting of this group, which should have available to it analyses prepared by appropriate specialists.
Increasing Supplies of Foods Rich in Protein
225. There is evidence that shortage of foods providing suitable kinds and amounts of protein is among the important causes of serious malnutrition in many parts of the world. The studies of kwashiorkor and associated syndromes which are being made by WHO and FAO underline this point There is particular need for larger supplies of protein foods which could be locally produced and made available at low cost. Co-ordinated developments in food technology, agriculture and fisheries are needed for this purpose. Educational activities are also required to bring about a greater intake of appropriate protein foods, and special attention should be given to such activities in developing the FAO program in education in nutrition and home economics, in countries in which shortage of protein is a serious condition. The problem, therefore, is one which falls into several fields that concern FAO, and the Conference hoped that it would be given a prominent position in the whole FAO program.
226. Milk is a valuable source of protein and its production should be increased whenever feasible. Apart from local supplies, processed milk, and in particular dried skim milk could be imported into areas in need of protein. While the provision of imported dried skim milk is of value as a temporary and immediate measure, the main approach to the problem is through efforts to increase supplies of locally-produced protein foods.
227. The welfare of children is to a large extent dependent upon satisfactory diet. Infants and children. together with expectant and nursing mothers, are "vulnerable groups" in the nutritional sense and it is of great importance that they should obtain a good diet. Special feeding schemes for infants and children in schools and nurseries, and provision of supplementary protective foods for pregnant and nursing women are among the measures that help to ensure this end. Good home management in a wide sense of the term is also essential to the wellbeing of children. FAO has a special interest in, and responsibility for, certain aspects of child welfare, which fall into the fields of nutrition and home economics. The Conference adopted the following resolution:
Resolution No. 36
Having considered the essential importance of good nutrition and good home management to child welfare,
Recommends that governments should give increasing attention to appropriate measures to improve the food and nutrition of children and mothers and their general living, conditions, and that FAO should provide, to the greatest extent possible, technical assistance in developing these measures; that FAO should continue to draw the attention of governments and of the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies to the vital importance of such measures as part of integrated long-term programs for the improvement of child tie/fare, arid should co-operate fully with governments and United Nations organizations in the planning and execution of these programs.
Education in Nutrition
228. Primary importance has been attached to education in developing the FAO nutrition program and this emphasis should continue. In this connection, the Conference commended the publication Teaching Better Nutrition --A Survey of Approaches and Techniques, which had proved of practical value in carrying out educational work in various countries.
229. The Conference noted with approval that work in the field of home economics was now being actively pursued. This would strengthen the Organization's educational work concerned with the preparation, and utilization of food. It was important that home economics be given a broad social interpretation and attention be paid to all aspects of home-making and home management, so that home-makers might play an effective role in the raising of living standards. Home economics should therefore include appropriate instruction, through extension services and in schools. to fit girls for home-making.
230. Improvement in home conditions had not kept pace with the general pattern of development in most countries. It was desirable that FAO should provide assistance to countries in need of home economics services In world in this field there should be close cooperation between FAO and WHO, UNESCO and non-governmental organizations concerned with the welfare of women and young people.
231. The exchange between countries of educational material in home economics would be of considerable practical value. FAO should facilitate such exchanges, particularly that of simple visual educational materials. e.g. posters, films and film strips. which could be used directly in educational work, or which could provide useful ideas for local application.
232. Since the Fifth Session of the Conference, the Second Nutrition Committee Meeting for South and East Asia and the Second Conference on Nutrition Problems in Latin America had been held. The Conference was of the opinion that these regional committee meetings or conferences convened by FAO had served a useful purpose and should be continued. Regional meetings should not be held too frequently; a three-year interval between meetings was probably desirable.
233. The agenda of earlier FAO meetings appropriately covered a wide range of subjects within the field of nutrition, since it was essential that consideration should be given to these by governments and nutrition workers within the region concerned and practical measures undertaken. At further regional meetings however, it would be advisable to limit the agenda to a smaller number of specific questions, to which concentrated attention could be given.
234. The European Nutrition Conference proposed for 1952 should be a joint undertaking on the part of FAO and WHO. The agenda of this Conference should obviously be composed of items of special interest to European countries. Among the subjects which might form the basis of the agenda are the following:
Education in nutrition and home economies; the economic aspects of nutrition: institutional and community feeding (including hospital dietetics); prenatal and infant nutrition (which could conveniently be linked with child nutrition in general, including school feeding); the nutrition of old people; the feeding of industrial workers.
235. In the first place, the governments of European countries should be consulted about the agenda. A few subjects from the above list could appropriately be submitted to them for consideration, after prior consultation between FAO and WHO. The information available in different countries on the subject or subjects selected for the agenda would be of value in others and exchange of information should be an important feature of the conference. The findings and recommendations of the conference e might well form the basis for further conferences held in individual countries and attended by larger groups of technical workers.
236. In addition to regional nutrition conferences or committees, scientific symposia should form part of FAO activities in the region. For these, a specific subject of importance in the region concerned should be chosen and scientific contributions presented by the workers attending. The main purpose of such symposia is the exchange of scientific information leading to further research and ultimately to practical action. The Conference also considered that FAO should continue to participate to the greatest extent possible, in symposia arranged by other international and national bodies in the fields of nutrition, food technology, and home economics.
237. Nutrition should continue to figure prominently on the agenda of Regional Conferences on Agricultural Planning and Outlook. At such conferences emphasis should be laid on the planning of agricultural production and distribution to fulfill nutritional requirements, and special attention should be given to food supply targets which are based on nutritional considerations as well as the potentialities of food supplies in the countries or region concerned. It is essential that governments include, in their delegations to such conferences, representatives who are equipped to consider the nutritional aspects of food policy.
Expanded Technical Assistance Program
238. In response to their requests, governments have received assistance in developing their programs in the many aspects of nutrition, home economics' and food technology. Fellowships have been granted in these fields and regional nutrition training courses held, and local workers have received training from the experts provided to the various countries. The Conference considered that such activities formed a most important part of the whole Technical Assistance Program of FAO).
239. The fellowship and training features of the Technical Assistance Program need special attention to ensure that:
- fellows sent abroad for study are able to receive the most appropriate training and attend the most suitable teaching or research institute in their special field:
- training in nutrition and home economies are given to people whose work brings them into contact with the general population and who, in their every-day tasks' bring help and guidance to the people.
240. In the further development of the program, projects covering the following appear to be of special importance in many countries:
(a) The prevention of waste due to inadequate or inappropriate methods of food preservation and processing;
(b) The spread of knowledge of nutrition and the teaching of better habits of diet;
(c) The improvement of home conditions;
(d) The improvement of maternal and child nutrition.
Nutrition in Member Countries
241. The Conference noted that, on the whole, progress was being made in developing practical nutrition programs in FAO Member Countries. Many governments were beginning to be more aware of the importance of nutrition. The need to safeguard the nutrition of vulnerable groups was becoming more widely recognized. For example, the supplementary feeding of school children was now an established practice in many countries, though it was often on a small scale because of lack of sufficient financial resources. Increasing attention was being given to the reduction of waste and losses of food and nutrients through improved methods of storing, preserving and processing foods, and also to the education of the public in better habits of diet.
242. While progress has been made, much remains to be done. Not all countries have as yet set up national nutrition organizations in accordance with the recommendations made by various sessions of the FAO Conference. In many, practical measures such as education in nutrition and supplementary feeding have not as yet been sufficiently developed. The Conference hoped that all Member Governments would strive to fulfill, to the greatest extent possible within their resources, their responsibility to raise the nutritional levels of their peoples, seeking, when necessary, the assistance of FAO in undertaking carefully designed practical programs.
Prevention and Treatment of Severe Malnutrition in Times of Disaster
243. The Director-General of WHO, at the request of the Third World Health Assembly, referred to the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Nutrition the subject of the prevention and treatment of severe malnutrition in times of disaster. A report, prepared by consultants, was approved by the Joint Committee and presented to the Fourth World Health Assembly. the Assembly adopted a resolution requesting the Director-General of WHO to draw it to the attention of WHO Member Governments.
244. The measures concerning food and agriculture which are covered, in the report are intentionally limited to those needed for dealing with the consequences of a temporary disruption of food supplies (due to war, poor crops, natural disasters, etc.) but not with chronic food shortage. They are related to numerous aspects of food management and the orientation of agricultural production. Since they are of a very general nature, their application to each country is dependent on national conditions. An emergency program, ready to be put into operation when disaster occurs, should therefore be established by each country, by adapting the general measures indicated in the report to specific conditions. The Conference adopted the following resolution:
Resolution No. 37
Malnutrition in Times of Disaster
Having considered the report on "Prevention and Treatment of Severe Malnutrition in Times of Disaster,"
Notes with satisfaction that FAO has cooperated with WHO in preparing the report and records its appreciation of the work accomplished by the experts consulted;
Requests the Director-General of FAO to call the attention of governments to this document; and
Recommends that countries undertake the studies needed to draw up appropriate emergency programs and obtain, if necessary, the help and co-operation of FAO and WHO in these studies.
Terms of Reference of Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Nutrition
245. The WHO Executive Board at its Eighth Session (May 1951) suggested the following terms of reference for the Joint Committee:
1. To advise the Director-General on the types of programs that should be undertaken by WHO;
2. To recommend the ways in which most satisfactory collaboration and cooperation could be maintained with FAO in the field of nutrition;
3. To provide expert advice on technical problems submitted to it by the Director-General.
246. The Conference requested the Director-General of FAO to consult with the Director-General of WHO with a view to broadening the terms of reference to cover the responsibilities of the Committee in relation to both FAO and WHO. The following terms of reference were suggested:
1. To advise the Directors-General of WHO and FAO on the types of program relating to nutrition appropriate to each Organization;
2. To recommend to both Directors-General the ways in which the most satisfactory collaboration and co-operation could be maintained and duplication of efforts be avoided between the two Organizations in the field of nutrition;
3. To advise either or both Directors-General, as might be appropriate in any instance, on any technical problem covering nutrition which either Director-General might submit to it.
Informational and educational services
247. The Conference approved the proposals submitted by the Director-General in Document C 51/11-3 on the reorganization of the Legislative Service.
Agriculture in World Economy
248. The Conference discussed a proposal put forward by the Swiss delegation that FAO should publish a brief, but carefully considered, statement of the importance of agriculture in world economy. It was informed by the Director-General that the cost of the printing and distribution of such a publication would be about $ 15,000. The Conference decided to invite the Director-General to have such a study prepared, as and when staff exigencies permitted, and to publish it as soon as the funds required could be made available.
249. The Conference adopted the following resolution:
Resolution No. 38
Recognizing the great importance of coordinating activities relating to bibliographical information and the provision of technical reference material in agriculture and allied subjects,
Recognizing also that any kind of duplication in this field should be avoided,
Invites the Director-General
1. to convene at an early date a meeting of selected experts in agricultural bibliography and documentation, in order to examine the material already available in this field from national sources, to determine whether this material is incomplete and requires to be supplemented by a bibliographical information and technical information service within FAO, and to explore the possibilities of co-operation between existing national documentation services; and
2. to report the conclusions of the meeting to the Council with a view to framing concrete proposals, if such are found to be required, for consideration by the Seventh Session of the Conference.