Harnessing agricultural development to combat and prevent malnutrition

An estimated one billion people in the developing world live in chronic hunger. Childhood malnutrition is an underlying cause of death in 35 percent of all deaths of children under five.  Women and children are those most affected by malnourishment and the micronutrient deficiencies responsible for decreased resistance to infection, low birth weights infants and maternal deaths.  Regionally, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia record the highest rates of mortality and undernourished and underweight children under the age of five.

Although there is an established body of literature highlighting effective nutrition interventions, clearly challenges still exist. Few of the countries with high rates of undernourishment are employing proven interventions at scale. Many of the underlying determinants of malnutrition, such as gender inequality, have received less attention in research than more proximal determinants such as food and nutrient intake. And while research shows that intensified agriculture and nutrition interventions contribute to reduce food security and increase income, fewer studies assess nutritional outcomes and impacts or the relationship between rising incomes and agricultural productivity, and food access or utilization.

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Nutrition (Nutrition Innovation Lab) (2010-2015) is working closely with two Feed the Future countries to identify the determinants of moving to scale with effective programs to improve nutritional outcomes. With the link between agricultural production and reducing malnutrition made clear, it is addressing how programs should be implemented. The Nutrition Innovation Lab works specifically in Uganda and Nepal to put research to practice in the field of nutrition.

Nutrition is also a cross-cutting feature of the Innovation Lab’s work as their research and capacity building activities aim to enhance access to and utilization of nutrition foods.

The former Human Nutrition CRSP began investigating the link between agriculture and nutrition in the early 1980s and made the case for the incorporation animal source foods into the diets of children to prevent malnutrition and its effects on learning abilities and human development.

For more information:

Nutrition Innovation Lab (2010-2015)

Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Tufts University
150 Harrison Ave
Boston, MA 02111

Patrick Webb, Program Director
Nutrition Innovation Lab in Asia
TEL: +1-617-636-3779

Jeffrey Griffiths, Program Director
Nutrition Innovation Lab in Africa
T: +1-617-636-6941

Human Nutrition CRSP (September 1981- May 1988 at UC Berkeley); (September 1989-1992 at Purdue University)