Summary of the NAV Public Lecture Saskia van Osendarp, January 26, 2023

Nutrition in crisis

Dr. Saskia van Osendarp, Executive Director of the Micronutrient Forum, presented the NAV Public Lecture on January 26, 2023. An important message was provided to nutritional scientists and other participants: the global nutrition status is currently of great concern and the sustainable development goals on hunger (SDG2) will likely not be achieved.

What is the malnutrition problem?

Malnutrition varies between and within countries. Data on micronutrient malnutrition in particular are scarce, but a recent review summarized the ecidence on this form of malnutrition using data from population based surveys. Specific statistical methods are used correcting for factors as inflammation and multiple deficiencies to estimate micronutrient malnutrition status. Even in high-income countries women in reproductive age are micronutrient deficient. Cause: no healthy diet. Serious health deficits caused by malnutrition early in life are linked to decreases in economic value.

Why is nutrition in crisis?

The COVID-19 pandemic has played an important role in exacerbating existing inequalities in food and nutrition security, becoming even more complicated in 2022 by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The food price inflation caused a shift to cheaper micronutrient poor high processed foods. Diet diversity has been sacrificed. Also has it become apparent that climate change impacts food security and that food systems as well as nutrition are interrelated with climate change. So, multiple crises will exacerbate malnutrition worldwide.

What works?

The formation of a nutrition consortium Standing Together for Nutrition (ST4N) – a multidisciplinary consortium of 35 nutrition, economics, food, and health system experts – aims at delivering evidence to inform advocacy on impact of global crises. ST4N managed to speak with one voice to policy makers and showed that cost-effective interventions as diversity in crops, biofortification, supplementation and social protection systems may work. For example, return on investment of nutrition intervention of one dollar spend could have return on investment of 16 dollars in a 40 years economic effect. In addition, social protection programs may increase resilience of communities.

The future

At the Micronutrient Forum 6th global conference on “Nutrition for Resilience (N4R)” 2023 this will be taken further. It will be held in The Hague – the city of human justice.

“We cannot afford to lose an entire generation due to malnutrition crises. The consequence of malnutrition in early life last a life long.”

Slides NAV lecture Saskia Osendarp

This NAV Public Lecture has been made possible with the support of the Van Dam Nutrition Foundation