Nutrition and Human Well-Being
Improve food and nutrition security in rural communities by developing food system solutions that are integrated within a holistic, multi-sectoral development framework
AgCenter’s nutrition research interests focus on understanding and leveraging the potential of agriculture and food systems for nutrition security, particularly in low-income settings where levels of malnutrition are highest.
The double burden of undernutrition and overnutrition affects more than two billion people around the globe. At one extreme, 3.5 million child deaths per year are related to undernutrition. At the other extreme, increasing rates of obesity in both the developed and developing world require an urgent response. Both dimensions of malnutrition place particular demands on food, public health and agro-ecological systems and require changes in strategy from farmers, health workers, and the global food industry.
The importance of agriculture for nutrition and health – in terms of both benefits and risks – is recognized now as never before. Yet links between the agriculture, nutrition, and health communities are weak, with serious implications for the effectiveness and efficiency of overall efforts to improve nutrition outcomes.
The failure of agriculture and food systems to provide access to nutritious foods and high-quality diets could aggravate the widespread problem of micronutrient deficiencies. Diets centered on cheap, calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods rather than vegetables, fruits, and other nutrient-rich foods could deepen the epidemic of obesity and chronic diseases in countries undergoing economic and nutrition transitions.
The core of AgCenter’s nutrition research is to 1) Develop methodologies that integrate nutrition outputs in agricultural monitoring systems, 2) Identify nutrition gaps and the potential of agriculture to fill these gaps, and 3) Assess and strengthen synergies between agriculture and health systems for improved nutrition security.
We work closely with site teams in ten sub-Saharan African countries, as well as with other teams globally. This allows us to jointly develop and translate research into on-the-ground used project planning tools to improve nutrition outcomes of agriculture.