Hunger and malnutrition continue to plague the world’s poorest populations. At the same time, an obesity epidemic is fueling diabetes, cardiovascular ailments and other chronic diseases in developed and developing countries alike, straining healthcare systems and public finances.
How can 21st Century society do a better job of translating the benefits of agricultural and industrial growth into improved nutrition? That is the core question addressed by the researchers.
With the transition from traditional lifestyles and subsistence agriculture to a Western-type diet and lifestyle now occurring within a few decades in many parts of the world, new approaches are needed to alleviate hunger and prevent rising obesity and non-communicable diseases from undercutting these countries’ fragile health systems, the researchers conclude.
Among the paths explored in the papers are promoting fuller integration of small farmers into national and global value chains and health systems; fostering collaboration among business, civil society and public organizations; and applying computer technology and systems-science models to make new streams of critical demographic, consumer and health data readily available to networks of policy makers, producers and market entrepreneurs.
The authors also stress the importance of harnessing the profit motive of the private market in order to unleash product and marketing innovation that is focused on the need to change the way people eat. “Business innovation as a catalyst for change is a key to full and sustainable nutrition security," said Prof. Dubé.