1. What are your expectations for the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition and how could it make a significant difference in improving nutrition and food security of the people in your country within the next ten years?
WHO page with definition of nutrition: http://www.who.int/topics/nutrition/en/ on 9/25/2016 States: “Nutrition is the intake of food, considered in relation to the body’s dietary needs. Good nutrition – an adequate, well balanced diet combined with regular physical activity – is a cornerstone of good health. Poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired physical and mental development, and reduced productivity.”
Here in the United States [USA], we have a bit of a blind spot when taking stock of our own population’s nutritional needs. We see large numbers of children who are obese, have elevated cholesterol levels, along with adults who have bulging gut tissue related to uneducated food and beverage choices. These are only the more visible, obvious nutrition related challenges our US population faces.
According to the agreement, “..governments to exercise their primary role and responsibility for addressing undernourishment, stunting, wasting, underweight and overweight in children under five years of age, anaemia in women and children - among other micronutrient deficiencies. It also commits them to reverse the rising trends in overweight and obesity and reduce the burden of diet-related noncommunicable diseases in all age groups.
While these matters do impact populations in rural and low-income regions in my home country, there is currently little-to-no open political discourse to address nutrition. It is my personal and professional desire to see an increase in access to healthy locally grown foods as much as is feasible, with a necessary amount of trade to add nutrient rich foods grown elsewhere. This required a new body of legislative action, the Food Safety Modernization Act designed to assure acceptable quality standards for imported foods are met, as well as our own exports meet similar standards worldwide.
While robust agriculture crops and worldwide trade are mutually essential, so is a proper nutritional education program, taught from grade school levels all the way through college. We have reduced these program in lieu of science and math, although health enhancing nutrition is definitely a science all of its own.
Additionally, we have more land than many of the countries of the world, which in unused, yet owned privately. This includes ‘yards’ as the area of dirt in front and behind most homes is referred. While we have become accustomed to enjoying supermarket and farmers’ market foods both meats and produce, these foods will become less available as regulations for safely and securely delivering foods from farm to market become more stringent in efforts to reduce food borne illnesses.
Many Americans have sufficient areas to ‘farm’ some of their own vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, reducing hunger and improving food security. However our focus is not on this valuable resource, yet.
In closing, academically certified nutrition education in schools, community centers, colleges, is one area for expected change over the next decade.
This along with increase in both urban, rural small food gardens, formerly call Victory Gardens during World War I and World War II. Currently the USDA NIFA and other agencies are encouraging small farms.
Incentives in these two directions need to be legislated, allowing public and private partnerships.
2. What critical activities need to be included in the Work Programme for the implementation of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition to reach the 2025 global nutrition targets? Which activities would need to be accelerated in your country to reach these targets? How could these activities be funded?
“Rome Declaration on Nutrition and Framework for Action adopted by the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) in November 2014…..The Framework for Action commits governments to exercise their primary role and responsibility for addressing undernourishment, stunting, wasting, underweight and overweight in children under five years of age, anaemia in women and children - among other micronutrient deficiencies. It also commits them to reverse the rising trends in overweight and obesity and reduce the burden of diet-related noncommunicable diseases in all age groups.”
To accomplish works, population assessments similar as those statistics in the USA for child nutrition, which of course does not include adult hunger challenges as reported on google searches performed on October 1, 2016 [http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/impact-of-hunger/child-h...
· 13.1 million children lived in food-insecure households in 2015.[i]
· Twenty percent or more of the child population in 30 states and D.C. lived in food-insecure households in 2014, according to the most recent data available. Mississippi (27%) and New Mexico (27%) had the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food.[ii]
· In 2014, the top five states with the highest rate of food-insecure children under 18 were Mississippi, New Mexico, Arizona, Alabama, and Arkansas.[iii]
· In 2014, the top five states with the lowest rate of food-insecure children under 18 were North Dakota, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Virginia.[iv]
Household adult databases of similar style are contained within the Women’s Health Organization of the USA. In ‘Quick Health DATA Online’, each State, County-by-County household’s physical composition data was collected. Although it is an enormous amount if heath data, the focus during collection of that data was on not on nutrition and its role pertaining to health achievement and wellness. Since the format is already set, it may be feasible to included additional nutrition related sort files to aggregate such information with the least amount of cost and effort.
A statistical health related measures based on these populations, their geopolitical cultures, and economic structures would then need to be address, since nutrition needs can and do vary based on these demographics.
Then this aggregated data may be shared and milled into other Regions and Populations for design of legislation and incentives, trade and distribution systems.
3. What can be done to accelerate and improve the quality of commitments from the various actors? What role(s) should public and private actors play in monitoring their implementation?
First and foremost in the USA, political discussions must begin to appear in the forefront of the public’s mind, followed by their elected officials. While children’s school lunches changed dramatically in the recent 5 years, there are mindsets, economics, and cultures to consider when changing food access and costing groceries.
It would appear our media is often driven more by pharmaceutical interventions, rather than by nutrition first, followed only when necessary, by medication. It is a mind shift that will require diligent efforts, education, and documentation including health studies to prove the value of food, quality of informed choice in selecting and preparing foods, over medicine.
We are beginning to see an edge of this shift in the USA related to the studies performed by the National Center for Integrative Health, where herbal supplementation is being included more often in research as well as the most recent microbiome studies/probiotics.
There are antidotal and empirical studies on record in oriental medicine and other traditional medical models, where food choices were the pharmacy (farmacy) of the past. For that reason, I believe these medical models are being included in the World Health Organization’s Traditional Medical Strategies through 2023. [http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/92455/1/9789241506090_eng.pdf?u...
4. How can other relevant forums, such as the CFS and the UNSCN, contribute, and how can other movements (e.g. human rights, environment) be involved in the Decade?
The Committee on Food Security [CFS] and the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition [UNSCN] may best serve the entire Model of Change expected to occur as a result of a Decade of Action in Nutrition, as an information hub and research testing data base.
As is common in the models of change already in place worldwide related to food, it is time to create a data bridge from food to consumers, of data which can assist in making informed personal nutritious choices.
Choices by farmers and value added food handlers, can benefit in planning crop planting, based on the human needs/choices data, while at the same time, and as a direct result of climate or other environmental issues these foods may and likely will evolve. This will make a back-flow of foods available for consumption, which will need to be tested and observed, through a database, possibly the same one used at the consumer driven level, thereby keeping a continuous food chain flow, without impacting populations with hunger issues in the midst rapid fluctuations in food availability.
This will likely be the area in which health care providers are most valued, particularly those who have extensive training in the use of food to benefit the human healing experience. Professions like acupuncture, and other traditional medicine models where food is a tool to achieve health and wellness. People in the areas of Academics in Agriculture, from field specialist to IT technicians and Traditional Health Professionals, including acupuncturists, herbalist, microbiologists, chemists, naturopaths, etc., will be the Professions most reliable to manage a Nutrition HUB allowing a bridge from Ag to Consumer, thereby nutrition exchange to occur.