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Biomed Environ Sci. 2001 Jun;14(1-2):66-74.

Perspectives on nutrition needs for the new millennium for South Asian regions.

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  • 1National Institute of Nutrition, Indian Council of Medical Research, Hyderabad, AP, India.


South Asia is the most populated region of the world with several nutritional challenges. Though per capita food energy supply, child survival and life expectancy have improved, and even today large segments of the population are below the poverty line with high infant and maternal mortality rates. It is important to recognize the crucial role of nutrition throughout the life cycle-from conception to old age. It is very necessary now to move from food security to nutrition security and improve the quality of foods both in macro- and micronutrients in order to break the transgenerational effects of malnutrition. The key solutions to the problems should address the issue of social development, population stabilization, environmental degradation and inadequate health and nutritional services. Strategies for empowering women and actuating community participation as sustainable programmes for human development, measures to reduce underweight and stunting in children and prevention of micronutrient malnutrition across the population are required. Enhancing food and nutrition security through innovative diversified agriculture and dietary practices, prevention and control of infection, promotion of food safety and fortification of staples with appropriate attention on emerging chronic disorders are essential. Population control measures to stabilize the fertility rates, biotechnological approaches for genetically modified foods, nutrition surveillance based on assessment, analysis and action to address the logistic, technical and compliance issues with emphasis on promotion of breast feeding and complementary foods with adequate attention on the reproductive needs of adolescent girls, pregnant mothers and lactating women would eliminate low birth weight, stunting, and chronic energy deficiency in vulnerable groups. Focused studies on bioavailability of micronutrients and its enhancement, innovative horticulture interventions, fortifications, social marketing strategies would promote the intake of micronutrient and phytonutrient rich foods. In-depth epidemiological research, an insight into foetal origins of adult disease and nutrition-genes interaction and life style alterations will avert the emerging epidemic of chronic diet related disorders. An investment in preventing foetal malnutrition improves nutrition of women in reproductive age, infant and child nutrition and prevents the onset of chronic disease in adult life. Human resource development, IEC measures, technology transfer, operational and logistic research, building of databases, integrated, intersectoral, multidisciplinary plans and sound management information system and surveillance with net working and experience sharing in the region will help to overcome the common challenges and lay the foundation for a better scenario in these regions in the near future.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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