Nuclear Techniques to Move the Nutrition Agenda Forward

Vienna, Austria

Werner Burkart IAEA Deputy Director General, Head of the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications

Distinguished Colleagues and Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon.

I am honoured to open here today the symposium: Nuclear Techniques to Move the Nutrition Agenda Forward. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assists its Member States in their efforts to develop effective, evidence-based interventions to combat malnutrition in all its forms by nuclear techniques, in particular stable (non-radioactive) isotope techniques.

Stable isotope techniques have been used as research tools in nutrition for many years. However, the application of these techniques in programme development and evaluation is a relatively new approach. Because of our expertise in this area, the IAEA has a unique opportunity to contribute technical expertise and to contribute to capacity building.

The use of stable isotope techniques adds value by increasing the sensitivity and specificity of measurements as compared to conventional techniques. The IAEA has fostered the more widespread use of these techniques in Member States through support to national and regional nutrition projects via technical cooperation Programme and through a mechanism we call Coordinated Research Projects, both of which have addressed priority areas in nutrition over many years.

A wide range of stable isotope techniques is used in nutrition. This session will highlight some of the most widely used techniques. Of particular relevance is the development and monitoring of nutritional interventions to combat both under- and over nutrition globally. For example we use the technique for body composition assessment in studies of childhood obesity and to optimise management of children with severe acute malnutrition.

This session also includes a presentation on capacity building in Asia for transfer of technology and knowledge in the field of stable isotope techniques in nutrition. Some issues to bear in mind include the establishment of the first IAEA collaborating center in nutrition in India, as well as the recent development by the IAEA of a series of documents and distance learning modules on stable isotope techniques in nutrition.

I am looking forward to an interesting session.

Thank you.

Last update: 11 November 2014