19 December 2014

Best Nutrition Reads of 2014 from the Global Nutrition Report's Independent Expert Group

Since professional decorum does not allow me to share my "best songs of 2014" on Development Horizons, I will instead list the Best Nutrition Reads of 2014 from the Global Nutrition Report's Independent Expert Group (IEG).

Some great ones are listed (many of which I missed in 2014) and they show the diversity of skills and interests within the IEG.

Here they are:

Mohamed Ag Bendech

Huffman, Sandra L., Ellen G. Piwoz, Stephen A. Vosti, and Kathryn G. Dewey. "Babies, soft drinks and snacks: a concern in low‐and middle‐income countries?." Maternal & child nutrition (2014).

The authors assessed the proportion of children 6-23 months of age consuming sugar snack foods in 18 countries in Asia and Africa using data from selected international and national sources and  highlighted the lack of good quantitative data on the purchase and consumption of snack foods by infant and young children and on associations between snack food consumption and stunting and overweight. The conclusions of this study are similar to those of 2014 GNR on the huge gap in food consumption data.

Mercedes de Onis

Villar, José, Aris T. Papageorghiou, Ruyan Pang, Eric O. Ohuma, Leila Cheikh Ismail, Fernando C. Barros, Ann Lambert et al. "The likeness of fetal growth and newborn size across non-isolated populations in the INTERGROWTH-21< sup> st
Project: the Fetal Growth Longitudinal Study and Newborn Cross-Sectional Study." The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology 2, no. 10 (2014): 781-792.

This study shows that the growth of foetuses and newborns enrolled in the INTERGROWTH-21st Project was similar across the eight study sites, supporting the view that human growth potential is universal for healthy populations from conception to at least through 5 years of age when health, environmental, and care needs are met. It is true that tall parents tend to have tall children and that short parents tend to have short children, but such expectations reflect interindividual rather than interpopulation variation. Recent studies of the genetics of height have identified about 200 genes associated with the genetic control of stature explaining only approximately 10% of observed variability, much less than the 40-80% expected from earlier studies done before the availability of genomic approaches. The small proportion of variability explained by that large number of genes likely reflects the influences on linear growth by nutrition and other care and environmental variables in ways that remain not fully understood. These considerations lead to the expectation that most variation in growth exists among individuals rather than among populations, an expectation borne out by both the WHO Multicentre Growth Reference Study and the INTERGROWTH-21st Project

Rafael Flores-Ayala

H. Verhagen et al. Application of the BRAFO-Tiered Approach for Benefit-Risk Assessment to Case Studies on Dietary Interventions.  Food and Chemical Toxicology 2012;50 (Suppl.4):S710-723

I heard Hans Verhagen’s presentation on “Integrating risk-benefit assessment in food and nutrition” at the Micronutrient Forum this past June 2014 and afterwards I read this paper. For micronutrient interventions this paper is particularly important because it presents a methodology to deal with the issues of benefits and risks in an objective way so we can better inform policy decisions. 

Patrizia Fracassi

The 2014 National Geographic series on the Future of Food (digital version natgeofoodapp.com).

This is special. It addresses familiar topics from unusual angles, using big graphics and beautiful pictures.

Lawrence Haddad

Richard Bluhm, Denis de Crombrugghe and Adam Szirmai. Poor trends: The pace of poverty reduction after the Millennium Development Agenda.  UNU Merit Working Paper. February 2014. http://aquadoc.typepad.com/files/wp2014-006.pdf

Nothing to do with nutrition directly.  I read this one early in the year and it stuck with me.  It tries to predict if we can really get to zero poverty by 2030 (the World Bank said we could).  Bluhm and colleagues show we can, but it will take a very rapid decline in inequality combined with sustained growth in most countries to do it.  So it busts open a rather careless statement from the Bank, but gives us some hope that with business not as usual, we can do it.  Good caution and good inspiration for the nutrition world.

Elizabeth Kimani

Norris SA, Wrottesley S, Mohamed RS, Micklesfield LK: Africa in transition: growth trends in children and implications for nutrition. Annals of nutrition & metabolism 2014, 64 Suppl 2:8-13.

This paper systematically reviews literature to discuss child stunting within the context of economic growth and adult obesity, and concludes that many transitioning African countries face a complex challenge of the double burden of malnutrition and need to apply a multisectoral approach to arrest and prevent obesity as well as accelerate the reduction in stunting levels.

Yves Martin-Prevel

Tahmeed Ahmed, David Auble, James A. Berkley, Robert Black, Philip P. Ahern, Muttaquina Hossain, Andrea Hsieh, Santhia Ireen, Mandana Arabi and Jeffrey I. Gordon. An evolving perspective about the origins of childhood undernutrition and nutritional interventions that includes the gut microbiome. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2014; doi: 10.1111/nyas.12487

This paper gives a really comprehensive summary of what we know and what we don’t know about mechanisms underlying child undernutrition. It opens the door to new research topics but also to new nutrition interventions to be developed.

Purnima Menon (new member)

Bredenkamp, Caryn, Leander R. Buisman, and Ellen Van de Poel. "Persistent inequalities in child undernutrition: evidence from 80 countries, from 1990 to today." International journal of epidemiology (2014): dyu075.

This paper reminds me that in the end undernutrition is about fundamental societal inequities and that without a social equity lens this problem is not going away.

Holly Newby

‪Global diets link environmental sustainability and human health.  ‪David Tilman & Michael Clark. ‪Nature. 515, 518–522 (27 November 2014). doi:10.1038/nature13959

This was a very readable article about an important subject.

Rachel Nugent

Bollyky, Tom, Mitch Daniels, Tom Donilon, “The Emerging Global Health Crisis: Noncommunicable Diseases in Low- and Middle-Income Countries,” December 2015, Council on Foreign Relations, New York.

This report will be a game-changer because it is produced by diplomats and politicians, not just technocrats. It will help create the political will to fund and implement programs and policies to reduce NCDs and their risk factors, which are now nearly universal.

Stineke Oenema

The new book by the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch: http://www.rtfn-watch.org/.

It is oriented towards policies and politics, and focuses on underlying drivers of food and nutrition insecurity. It also provides good policy examples that are promising to contribute to better food and nutrition security. Especially the paper about Zanzibar.

Emorn Wasantwisut

Lachat C, Nago E, Roberfroid D, Holdsworth M, Smit K, et al (2014), Developing a Sustainable Nutrition Research Agenda in Sub-Saharan Africa-- Findings from the SUNRAY project.   PLoS Med 11(1): e1001593, doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed. 1001593

The project behind this paper showcased the importance of a nutrition research agenda that speaks to the 'demand' of countries in SSA, with active participation of the African stakeholders, and called for other stakeholders to align with it.  This is really inspiring, showing capacity, leadership, and a good practice model.

1 comment:

  1. Bowing to pressure to list my top 10 songs of 2014:

    1. "Under the Pressure" by The War on Drugs. The GNR soundtrack. Dylan meets The The meets Kurt Vile meets The Cure. Sublime.

    2. "Ask Yourself" by Foster the People. "The more I want the less I have". Soundtrack to sustainable development?

    3. "Colour Decay" by Junius Meyvant. Iceland pop never sounded so good.

    4. "Silver" by Caribou. Mesmerising.

    5. "A Place Called Space" by The Juan Maclean. Strangely addictive.

    6. "Two Weeks" by FKA Twigs. Longer than we had to do the first draft of the GNR.

    7. "Do You" by Spoon. A consistently great band.

    8. "How Can you Really?" by Foxygen. Gave up tickets to see them so I could go to the SUN Global Gathering. Dedication.

    9. "Fault Lines" by Tom Petty. A rocker from the old rocker.

    10. "Monument" by Royksopp and Robyn. Brooding and magnificent.