evidence-based blog of Filippo Dibari

Posts Tagged ‘nutrition research’

VALID Nutrition’s inspiring and innovative research is unveiled at IUNS 21st International Conference of Nutrition in Buenos Aires

In Under-nutrition on October 27, 2017 at 6:46 pm

by Ciara O’Brien | Oct 25, 2017  (Valid Nutrition)

VALID Nutrition’s inspiring and innovative research is unveiled at IUNS 21st International Conference of Nutrition in Buenos Aires

The ground-breaking results from a clinical trial of a Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) product made without milk or animal source protein and undertaken in Malawi in 2016, were unveiled by VALID Nutrition’s Founder, Dr Steve Collins, at the IUNS 21st International Conference on Nutrition (15th – 20th October 2017). The Soy-Maize-Sorghum (SMS) based recipe has been in development for over ten years, involving three large randomised controlled clinical trials and considerable investment from several stakeholders including Japan’s International Cooperation Agency, the Global Innovation Fund, Irish Aid and the PRANA Foundation.

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Fan of Dr.Greger? Cannot miss this then. Simply you can’t

In Over-nutrition, Under-nutrition on May 21, 2017 at 7:55 am

Behind the Scenes at NutritionFacts.org

How does Dr. Greger come up with his videos?

Nutrition Causal Analysis Tool – Link NCA

In Over-nutrition, Under-nutrition on July 6, 2015 at 11:43 am


A participatory and response-oriented nutrition causal analysis

(see more on the Link NCA web site)

The Link NCA is a mixed method to identify the most relevant factors leading to under-nutrition in a local context for improving Nutrition Security programming.

Why doing an NCA? «The Link NCA method was created with the objective of helping define response strategies for tacking under-nutrition. It is addressed to operational organisations, to authorities or governments, in charge of developing intervention policies. A Link NCA study is recommended for contexts that are not in crisis situations but where the problem of under-nutrition is widely established and where there exist high levels and different kinds of under-nutrition. It is especially advised for contexts where continuous attempts to fight this problem have been made but with little success.» (J. Morel, Nutrition Security Senior Advisor, ACF).

What is the Linik NCA? The Link NCA is a mixed method combining a strong and expert level qualitative component with a descriptive quantitative component to answer the following research questions:

  1. What is the prevalence and severity of wasting and/or stunting in the study population ?
  2. What is the prevalence of key risk factors for under-nutrition among the population ?
  3. What are the causal “pathways of under-nutrition” ?
  4. How have the prevalence and causes of stunting and/or wasting in this population changed over time?
  5. Which causal pathways are likely to explain most cases of under-nutrition?
  6. What recommendations can be made for improving nutrition security programming?

The Link NCA is studying local population, typically at a scale of a district or a livelihood zone.

Studies already done (click on the map):






GHSP (2015): Action-Oriented Population Nutrition Research: High Demand but Limited Supply

In Over-nutrition, Under-nutrition on May 28, 2015 at 8:20 am

by Judy Pham, a David Pelletier – on Glob Health: Science Practice – May 27, 2015



Background: The relatively rapid ascendancy of nutrition and health on policy agendas, along with greater emphasis on accountability and results, has stimulated interest in new forms of research to guide the development and implementation of effective policies, programs, and interventions—what we refer to as action-oriented research.

To date, action-oriented research in the nutrition field is thought to be the exception rather than the rule, but empirical evidence to support this claim is lacking.

Methods: We conducted a survey of selected journals in nutrition and public health to assess the extent and nature of population nutrition research published in 2012 that embodied 5 defined characteristics of action-oriented research in relation to: (1) topic(s) of study, (2) processes/influences, (3) actors, (4) methods, and (5) approaches.

We identified 762 articles from the 6 selected nutrition journals and 77 nutrition-related articles from the 4 selected public health journals that met our search criteria.

Results: Only 7% of the 762 papers in nutrition journals had at least 1 of the 5 action-oriented research characteristics, compared with 36% of the 77 nutrition-related papers in the public health journals.

Of all 80 articles that had at least 1 action-oriented research characteristic, only 5 articles (6.25%) embodied all 5 characteristics. Articles with action-oriented research covered a broad range of topics and processes/influences, including policy, workforce development, and schools, as well as actors, such as program staff, store owners, parents, and school staff.

In addition, various research methods were used, such as stakeholder analysis, ethnographic narrative, iterative action research, and decision tree modeling, as well as different approaches, including participant-observer and community-based participatory research.

Conclusions: Action-oriented research represents a small fraction of articles published in nutrition journals, especially compared with public health journals.

This reinforces recent calls to expand population nutrition research agendas to more effectively inform and guide the initiation, development, implementation, and governance of policies, programs, and interventions to address the varied forms of nutrition-related problems. With heightened attention to the magnitude and importance of nutrition problems worldwide, there are substantial reasons and opportunities to incentivize and support such expansion.

CGIAR: Call for concept notes: nutrition-relevant policy and action in eastern Africa

In Under-nutrition on October 7, 2014 at 7:37 am

from CGIAR web pageOctober 3, 2014 by

The Transform Nutrition Research Consortium, a network which seeks to transform thinking and action on nutrition among research, operational, and policy communities in South Asia and eastern Africa, invites proposals for studies of up to 24 months duration which will add to the evidence base on nutrition-relevant policy and action in eastern Africa.


The challenge

Nutrition is foundational to the achievement of major social and economic goals, including many international development goals. Undernutrition in early life is responsible for 45% of under-five child deaths, reduced cognitive attainment, increased likelihood of poverty and is associated with increased maternal morbidity and mortality.


Child stunting rates in eastern Africa are among the highest in the world. The four countries in this call (Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania) are home to around 13 million stunted children, and among the highest burden countries in the world. Ensuring food and nutrition security in the region can only occur through a combination of targeted “nutrition-specific” interventions and wider “nutrition-sensitive” development interventions, backed up by enabling policy, political and institutional environments, and processes. Political commitment to address undernutrition is growing in the region (all four countries, for example, have signed up to the SUN Movement) and nutrition policies and action plans are being drawn up or revised.


While progress is being made, much more can be done. Scoping work within both Transform Nutrition and A4NH have clearly revealed major operational and policy-related knowledge gaps that broadly relate to the thematic focus of this call. This call for concept notes is thus intended to help fill these knowledge gaps, through locally-relevant research undertaken by research organizations from the region.


Click here to download the Call for Research Concept Notes.


This call seeks to engender a wider sense of engagement in nutrition-relevant research among national and regional stakeholders in four countries of eastern Africa: Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania. We seek high quality research proposals on at least one of the following research themes:


Theme 1: How can nutrition-specific interventions be appropriately prioritized, implemented, scaled up, and sustained in different settings?

Theme 2: How can agriculture and the wider agri-food systems become more nutrition-sensitive and have a greater impact on nutrition outcomes?

Theme 3: How can enabling (policy and institutional) environments for nutrition be cultivated and sustained?


Cross-cutting issues include: governance, inclusion (socio-economic and gender equity) and fragility. Gendered approaches are especially important for proposals under Theme 2.


Eligibility criteria and important considerations:

  • Applicants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with work underway or completed by Transform and A4NH (accessible via websites above) to maximize “value added” and complementarity with ongoing work, and avoid duplication.
  • Applicant organisations must be legally registered entities in one of the four focal countries, capable of receiving and managing funds.
  • Joint applications by more than one organization are encouraged, but one local organization must be specified as the lead.
  • An organisation may submit more than one application, and an individual may be involved in multiple proposals, but any individual may be the lead researcher on only one application.
  • Partner organizations within Transform Nutrition or A4NH may collaborate in proposed studies, but they are exempt from leading the call, and funds for their participation will need to be separately sourced.
  • Research studies may be of 6-24 months duration.
  • The requested budget for each study should lie in the range: $50,000 – $150,000. Studies that are more expensive may be considered so long as there is guaranteed co-funding to meet requirements beyond this range.
  • Each of the three themes has its own budget ceiling of $150,000.
  • It is expected that 3-6 studies (in total) will be funded through this call, with at least one study from each theme.


Evaluation criteria

  • quality of the concept note and proposed research
  • relevance and “value added” with regard to Transform and A4NH’s work
  • value for money
  • internal capacity (for high quality research and efficient project management)
  • clearly specified policy relevance and potential for impact


Format of concept notes

Please submit a concept note of no more than 3 pages (single-spaced) that clearly states:

  • problem statement (including which theme(s) the project responds to),
  • context (including what is known already),
  • objectives and research questions,
  • study design and methods to be used,
  • expected outputs, outcomes and impact,
  • lead researcher, core research team and partners (CVs not required at this stage)
  • timeframe,
  • indicative budget (with breakdowns of personnel, travel and other expenses.)

No additional material will be considered.


Review and selection process

The following process will be adopted:

  1. Applicant organizations are invited (through this call) to respond by 21 November 2014, and according to specified eligibility and evaluation criteria, and format, with a concept note.
  2. Concept notes will be screened against these criteria and quality filters by a review team comprising members of TN and A4NH, to select a shortlist.
  3. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to prepare detailed research proposals (by 15 January 2015)
  4. These proposals will again be reviewed by the review panel, using a standard scoring system before 30 January 2015.
  5. The winning research proposals will then be announced.
  6. Contracts will be agreed with lead organizations in February 2015.
  7. Studies will start no later than 1 March 2015.


Concept notes should be emailed to Sivan Yosef (IFPRI) at s.yosef@cgiar.org

All queries concerning this call should be addressed to Catherine Gee at c.gee@cgiar.org


*Final deadline for concept notes is 21 November 2014, (23:59 GMT).

Call for Competitive Research Grants to Develop Innovative Methods and Metrics for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions

In Under-nutrition on October 4, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Innovative Metrics and Methods for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA) is a new £7.2m research partnership funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and coordinated by LCIRAH.

The aim of IMMANA is to accelerate the development of a robust scientific evidence base needed to guide changes in global agriculture to feed the world’s population projected to hit nine billion by 2050 in a way that is both healthy and sustainable.


What’s new

30 September 2014: Call for Competitive Research Grants to Develop Innovative Methods and Metrics for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA Grants) is now open!

Download the call (closing: 21 November 2014)


IMMANA aims to:

1) Develop scientific evidence to inform effective policies and investments in agriculture for improved nutrition and health

2) Engage with the research community to stimulate development of innovative methodological approaches and novel metrics

3) Train young researchers in developing and applying cutting-edge methods

4) Strengthen international interdisciplinary research collaborations for evidence-based policy making and programme design.

What we do

IMMANA consists of three main workstreams:

1) Competitive Research Grants to Develop Innovative Methods and Metrics for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA Grants) – the call for applications is now open (closing: 21 November 2014)

2) Post-Doctoral Fellowships for Emerging Leaders in Agriculture, Nutrition, and Health Research (IMMANA Fellowships) – launching soon!

3) Agriculture, Nutrition and Health Academy – a global research network in agriculture for improved nutrition and health to serve as a platform for learning, including an annual conference.

Who we are

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK – lead partner
Research Grants, Research Network

Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, USA
Research Fellowships

Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH), part of the London International Development Centre (LIDC)
Coordination and delivery

SOAS, University of London, UK
Project advisors

Ibi Wallbank – IMMANA Project Coordinator
Administrator, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine/ LCIRAH

Contact us

Interested in IMMANA? Drop us a line!

IMMANA Partners




Funded by

IMMANA is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Food choices, health and environment: Effects of cutting Europe’s meat and dairy intake

In Over-nutrition on September 16, 2014 at 12:23 pm

by Henk Westhoek, Jan Peter Lesschen,Trudy Rood, Susanne Wagner, Alessandra De Marco, Donal Murphy-Bokern, Adrian Leip, Hans van Grinsven, Mark A. Sutton, Oene Oenema.

From: Global Environmental Change. Volume 26, May 2014, Pages 196–205


• We model the effect of halving meat and dairy consumption on health and environment.

• Halving meat and dairy lowers saturated fat intake to the maximum recommended level.

• Lower livestock production lead to 40% lower nitrogen emissions.

• Lower livestock production lead to 25–40% lower greenhouse gas emissions.

• Lower meat and dairy consumption would make the EU an exporter of cereals.



Western diets are characterised by a high intake of meat, dairy products and eggs, causing an intake of saturated fat and red meat in quantities that exceed dietary recommendations. The associated livestock production requires large areas of land and lead to high nitrogen and greenhouse gas emission levels.

Although several studies have examined the potential impact of dietary changes on greenhouse gas emissions and land use, those on health, the agricultural system and other environmental aspects (such as nitrogen emissions) have only been studied to a limited extent.

By using biophysical models and methods, we examined the large-scale consequences in the European Union of replacing 25–50% of animal-derived foods with plant-based foods on a dietary energy basis, assuming corresponding changes in production. We tested the effects of these alternative diets and found that halving the consumption of meat, dairy products and eggs in the European Union would achieve a 40% reduction in nitrogen emissions, 25–40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and 23% per capita less use of cropland for food production. In addition, the dietary changes would also lower health risks. The European Union would become a net exporter of cereals, while the use of soymeal would be reduced by 75%. The nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of the food system would increase from the current 18% to between 41% and 47%, depending on choices made regarding land use. As agriculture is the major source of nitrogen pollution, this is expected to result in a significant improvement in both air and water quality in the EU. The resulting 40% reduction in the intake of saturated fat would lead to a reduction in cardiovascular mortality.

These diet-led changes in food production patterns would have a large economic impact on livestock farmers and associated supply-chain actors, such as the feed industry and meat-processing sector.

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Preventing Acute Malnutrition among Young Children in Crises: A Prospective Intervention Study in Niger

In Under-nutrition on September 15, 2014 at 11:14 am

Céline Langendorf, Thomas Roederer, Saskia de Pee, Denise Brown, Stéphane Doyon, Abdoul-Aziz Mamaty, Lynda W.-M. Touré, Mahamane L. Manzo, Rebecca F. Grais

PLoS Med. 2014 Sep 2;11(9):e1001714



Finding the most appropriate strategy for the prevention of moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in young children is essential in countries like Niger with annual “hunger gaps.” Options for large-scale prevention include distribution of supplementary foods, such as fortified-blended foods or lipid-based nutrient supplements (LNSs) with or without household support (cash or food transfer). To date, there has been no direct controlled comparison between these strategies leading to debate concerning their effectiveness. We compared the effectiveness of seven preventive strategies—including distribution of nutritious supplementary foods, with or without additional household support (family food ration or cash transfer), and cash transfer only—on the incidence of SAM and MAM among children aged 6–23 months over a 5-month period, partly overlapping the hunger gap, in Maradi region, Niger. We hypothesized that distributions of supplementary foods would more effectively reduce the incidence of acute malnutrition than distributions of household support by cash transfer.

Methods and Findings

We conducted a prospective intervention study in 48 rural villages located within 15 km of a health center supported by Forum Santé Niger (FORSANI)/Médecins Sans Frontières in Madarounfa. Seven groups of villages (five to 11 villages) were allocated to different strategies of monthly distributions targeting households including at least one child measuring 60 cm–80 cm (at any time during the study period whatever their nutritional status): three groups received high-quantity LNS (HQ-LNS) or medium-quantity LNS (MQ-LNS) or Super Cereal Plus (SC+) with cash (€38/month [US$52/month]); one group received SC+ and family food ration; two groups received HQ-LNS or SC+ only; one group received cash only (€43/month [US$59/month]). Children 60 cm–80 cm of participating households were assessed at each monthly distribution from August to December 2011. Primary endpoints were SAM (weight-for-length Z-score [WLZ]<−3 and/or mid-upper arm circumference [MUAC]<11.5 cm and/or bipedal edema) and MAM (−3≤WLZ<−2 and/or 11.5≤MUAC<12.5 cm). A total of 5,395 children were included in the analysis (615 to 1,054 per group). Incidence of MAM was twice lower in the strategies receiving a food supplement combined with cash compared with the cash-only strategy (cash versus HQ-LNS/cash adjusted hazard ratio [HR] = 2.30, 95% CI 1.60–3.29; cash versus SC+/cash HR = 2.42, 95% CI 1.39–4.21; cash versus MQ-LNS/cash HR = 2.07, 95% CI 1.52–2.83) or with the supplementary food only groups (HQ-LNS versus HQ-LNS/cash HR = 1.84, 95% CI 1.35–2.51; SC+ versus SC+/cash HR = 2.53, 95% CI 1.47–4.35). In addition, the incidence of SAM was three times lower in the SC+/cash group compared with the SC+ only group (SC+ only versus SC+/cash HR = 3.13, 95% CI 1.65–5.94). However, non-quantified differences between groups, may limit the interpretation of the impact of the strategies.


Preventive distributions combining a supplementary food and cash transfer had a better preventive effect on MAM and SAM than strategies relying on cash transfer or supplementary food alone. As a result, distribution of nutritious supplementary foods to young children in conjunction with household support should remain a pillar of emergency nutritional interventions. Additional rigorous research is vital to evaluate the effectiveness of these and other nutritional interventions in diverse settings.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01828814


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Health and Local Community Community mobilisation and integrated interventions for sustainable impact in health promotion.

In Over-nutrition on July 8, 2014 at 4:38 pm

(from the Steno web site)


Aim and purpose
Project “Sundhed og Lokalsamfund” (SoL) is a research-based intervention project implemented in response to the growing challenge of non-communicable diseases, including type 2 diabetes, in Denmark, Europe and most other parts of  the world. The project applies a community perspective with emphasis on influencing people’s lifestyle habits through a multi-dimensional approach. It also applies a broad understanding of the concept of health and healthy living, which includes food choices and physical movement as well as joy, play, social interaction, wellbeing, meaningfulness, self-determination and action competence.

Project SoL aims to promote the health and wellbeing of families with small children aged 3-8 years living in selected communities on the Danish island of Bornholm. This aim is achieved by mobilising local community resources, strengthening social networks and promoting healthier food choices and more physical movement. The project applies structural, social and pedagogic interventions in multiple settings such as primary schools, after-school centres, childcare centres, sport centres, supermarkets, market places and local media.

Project SoL adheres to the values and principles of the “supersetting approach”. This is an intervention strategy whereby coordinated activities targeting a common overall goal such as improved health in a population group are carried out in a variety of different settings and involving a variety of different stakeholders within a local community. A supersetting initiative builds on the optimised use of diverse and valuable resources embedded in local community settings and on the strengths of social interaction and local ownership as drivers of change processes.

Project SoL has an intervention arm and a research arm
In relation to the intervention arm, the project is designed to be: 1) participatory and inclusive, 2) integrated and intersectoral, 3) context-sensitive, 4) empowering and action-competence building, 5) social network strengthening, and 6) relatively long-term. Interventions are not pre-determined but developed and implemented jointly by researchers, local partners and beneficiaries (including children and parents) in respectful dialogues that are responsive to every-day life challenges and needs; to planning cycles, action plans and resources of local stakeholder institutions; and to scientific knowledge about what has been shown to work (or not work) elsewhere.

In relation to the research arm, the project is designed as a controlled interdisciplinary intervention study. It applies action research to actively involve children, parents and professionals in identifying visions for a healthier and socially coherent local community and in transforming these visions into realistic activities that are subsequently implemented using local human and material resources. Actions are iteratively evaluated and adjusted by participants during the course of implementation. This approach strives to strengthen participants’ competences to take action on the needs of their local community. Project SoL also applies a pre- and post-intervention design whereby the effects of interventions on participants’ knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding a wide range of health and social issues are determined by comparing questionnaire responses obtained from the prime target group of parents and children before and after implementation of interventions.

Target groups
The primary target group is families with children aged 3 to 8 years who are enrolled in childcare centre and primary schools in three selected communities (Allinge/Sandvig, Hasle and Nexø) on the Danish island of Bornholm. This includes children, parents and grandparents, guardians and other close family members. Equivalent families with children aged 3 to 8 years who are enrolled in childcare centre and primary schools in three selected communities (Asnæs, Egebjerg and Højby) in the Danish municipality of Odsherred act as a reference group.

Secondary target groups are other stakeholders who influence children’s health and wellbeing most notably professionals within primary schools, after-school centres, childcare centres, supermarkets, media, the administration and policy makers of the local government and a number of civil society organisations and resource persons with expertise in nutrition, cooking, recreation and physical movement.

Expected outcome
The outcomes of Project SoL relate to: a) qualitatively determined perceptions, attitudes and motivations regarding healthy living, b) quantitatively determined behaviours and practices related to physical movement, sedentary behaviour and intake of healthy and unhealthy food products, c) procurement and sales of healthy and unhealthy commodities in supermarkets, and d) physical and biological measures such as Body Mass Index (BMI) for overweight and obesity.

From commencement of interventions in September 2012 to end of interventions in May 2014 the following quantitative targets are set:
• Increased sales of fruits, vegetables and whole grain products and reduced sales of sweets and soft drinks by 15% in supermarkets located in intervention communities compared to control communities.
• Increased intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grain products and reduced intake of sweets and soft drinks by 25% among children in intervention families compared to control families.
• Reduced use of TV by ½ hour per day among children in intervention families compared to control families.

In addition, Project SoL documents the qualities of a new intervention paradigm based on the “supersetting approach” and its values and principles for integrated interventions implemented in a complex local community setup. This documentation is qualitative and includes political, strategic, organisational, inter-personal and cultural dimensions.

Funding and collaborators

Project SoL is financially supported by the Nordea-Foundation.

Project SoL involves the Regional Municipality of Bornholm, the Municipality of Odsherred, a variety of local community organizations, and three Danish research institutions, namely the Steno Health Promotion Center at the Steno Diabetes Center, the research group Meal Science and Public Health Nutrition (MENU) at the University of Aalborg, and the Research Centre for Prevention and Health at the Capital Region of Denmark.

Project SoL is funded for a four-year period (2012-2015) but recognises the need for more time to consolidate local trust-relations, and to safeguard organisational integration and sustainable actions; it is therefore intended to keep the initiative alive as a coherent entity beyond the first four years. Best practices are transferred to reference communities in Odsherred and evaluated by the research group during 2014-2015.

They starved so that others be better fed: remembering Ancel Keys and the Minnesota experiment.

In Under-nutrition on June 3, 2014 at 1:51 pm

by Kalm LM, Semba RD.

 J Nutr. 2005 Jun;135(6):1347-52




During World War II, 36 conscientious objectors participated in a study of human starvation conducted by Ancel Keys and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota. The Minnesota Starvation Experiment, as it was later known, was a grueling study meant to gain insight into the physical and psychologic effects of semistarvation and the problem of refeeding civilians who had been starved during the war.


During the experiment, the participants were subjected to semistarvation in which most lost >25% of their weight, and many experienced anemia, fatigue, apathy, extreme weakness, irritability, neurological deficits, and lower extremity edema. In 2003-2004, 18 of the original 36 participants were still alive and were interviewed.


CaptureMany came from the Historic Peace Churches (Mennonite, Brethren, and Quaker), and all expressed strong convictions about nonviolence and wanting to make a meaningful contribution during the war. Despite ethical issues about subjecting healthy humans to starvation, the men interviewed were unanimous in saying that they would do it all over again, even after knowing the suffering that they had experienced.

After the experiment ended, many of the participants went on to rebuilding war-torn Europe, working in the ministries, diplomatic careers, and other activities related to nonviolence.

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