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Better Answers to MAM's Key Questions

Saskia de Pee

Saskia de Pee, Technical Advisor, Nutrition Advisory Office, World Food Programme (WFP). (Photo: S. Henriques/IAEA)

During the IAEA International Symposium on Understanding Moderate Malnutrition in Children for Effective Interventions from 26 to 29 May 2014, Saskia de Pee, Technical Advisor in the World Food Programme (WFP) Nutrition Advisory Office, spoke to the IAEA's Sasha Henriques about her hopes for the Symposium:

"There's a variety of research, programmes, and strategies that are being implemented in different corners of the world. And I hope this Symposium, which brings together hundreds of nutrition specialists, academics, researchers and practitioners, will facilitate discussion so we can all reach a common understanding of the problem and its solutions, as well as harmonize our approaches to moderate acute malnutrition (MAM).

"I hope we'll all be able to answer MAM's key questions as a result of this gathering. Because we all need to know how to implement preventive strategies, when to do treatment, and how to undertake that treatment."

Is there a place for nuclear techniques in WFP's work?

"Nuclear techniques have a lot to offer for WFP's work, such as the assessment of mineral bioavailability from foods as well as for body composition measurement.

"WFP doesn't use these techniques ourselves, but we collaborate on research conducted using these techniques by our scientific partners. Such research provides us with important information that helps us decide the composition of foods that we distribute and recommend for malnutrition treatment around the world.

"For instance, one of WFP's ongoing studies is in Ethiopia, testing different forms of supplemental food composition for the treatment of MAM. A follow-on study will incorporate the use of nuclear techniques to understand the rate of absorption of minerals like iron and zinc into the body from the consumption of these supplemental foods.

"This information helps the WFP make better decisions about product composition, ensuring that the millions of people who depend on us are getting the best nutrition we have to offer."

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