Re: The e-Consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security

Barbara Burlingame FAO, Italy

Theme 1: Key lessons

  1.  “Diet” needs to be addressed as the fundamental unit of nutrition; i.e., not individual nutrients and not individual foods.  The nutrition world has a long, unsuccessful history of dealing with (mal)nutrition outside the context of a whole diet.   
  2. “Agriculture”,  imbedded in “environmental sustainability”, needs to be the focus of all efforts to provide long-term solutions to the multiple problems of malnutrition.   
  3. The main challenges include treating malnutrition with real foods and diets and less as a clinical problem with industrial/pharmaceutical interventions. Opportunities include adopting the concept of sustainable diets, with important emphasis on minimizing food losses and waste, valuing local food biodiversity, and re-evaluating traditional food systems.  Diets, foods, and nutrients for human nutrition should be regarded as “ecosystem services”, thus bringing sustainable environments into the nutrition world.

Theme 3


The ZHC hits the proverbial nail on the head, providing a useful framework for addressing the problems of malnutrition.  The concept of sustainable diets encompasses all aspects of the ZHC, and can be considered one of the direct responses.  [Definition: Sustainable Diets are those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources. FAO, 2010.]


Barbara Burlingame

Principal Nutrition Officer