Said Dr. Mandana Arabi, Director of the Sackler Institute, based at the New York Academy of Sciences: "The evidence is loud and clear: A healthier economy does not necessarily translate into healthier people. As GDP increases and incomes go up, there is a change in food habits and the types of food consumed. Nutrition interventions are needed to make sure populations make wise choices about how to use their increased income and how to benefit from a new-found availability of different types of food."
"The wisdom of the past and traditional foods get lost," said Dr. Arabi. "Dietary diversity with lots of fruit and vegetable consumption is not as good as it should be. People tend to move to consumption of more animal-sourced foods and lower nutritional value foods high in calories and salt, which puts people at risk of diseases like obesity and, later, diabetes."
Achieving good nutrition has many behavioral and educational aspects to it, said Dr. Arabi, adding there is no "one-size-fits-all" national approach. A strategy needs to be customized to every nation, with studies to understand variables such as the key family decision-makers in a particular culture.
Maternal education and child nutrition are closely correlated, she adds. "Children need good nutrition to be ready to enter and finish the school system, and this in turn affects income into adulthood."
Worldwide, malnutrition (both under and over-nutrition) accounts for 11 percent of the global burden of disease. It is the number one risk to health worldwide according to a 2008 Lancet series on maternal and child undernutrition.
More than one billion people worldwide are overweight and at least 300 million are obese (BMI >30). Overweight and obesity cause, worldwide, 2.8 million deaths, so that today 65%of the world's population live in a country (all high-income countries and most middle-income countries) where overweight and obesity kills
|Contact: Terry Collins