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Good Nutrition is Essential for Good Health

IAEA to Host International Symposium on Understanding Moderate Malnutrition in Children

One of the most serious health problems facing the poorer countries is undernutrition, the single largest contributor of more than one third of all deaths of children under five years of age. The sad fact is that this continuing tragedy of loss of young children due to undernutrition can be prevented through effective nutrition intervention. Within this field of global concern, the IAEA is hosting the International Symposium on Understanding Moderate Malnutrition in Children for Effective Intervention at its Headquarters from 26 to 29 May 2014, which will focus on the prevention and treatment of moderate acute malnutrition (MAM).

Although MAM is not a condition of medical urgency, a child's growth and development can be severely impacted if this problem is not addressed in a timely manner. It can result in severe acute malnutrition (SAM), a life threatening condition, which requires specialist treatment.

Agencies such as World Health Organization, the World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the United Nations Children Fund, and other international partners require tools to monitor and evaluate programmes aimed at prevention and treatment of MAM. Changes in body weight and length or height have been used in the past, but there is increasing recognition that more information on the quality of growth is required. This can be done by assessing body composition in terms of the relative amounts of fat and lean tissue. Such information is key for evaluating the efficacy and effectiveness of interventions, but also for gauging the risk of chronic diseases.

The IAEA has been in the forefront in developing and promoting standardized protocols for assessing body composition using stable isotope techniques. These techniques can complement other measures used to monitor global efforts in improving infant and child nutrition. Stable isotope techniques do not involve radiation and offer sensitive and specific measurements of body composition.

Through national and regional technical cooperation projects and coordinated research projects, the IAEA assists Member States in developing strategies and programmes that can scrutinize and monitor sustainable interventions aimed at managing malnutrition.

The four-day event will analyse, among other topics, the current levels of knowledge in this specific field, examine areas for which further research is required in relation to the prevention and treatment of MAM and will also address innovative technologies that can help alleviate malnutrition. The event will bring together public health nutritionists and health professionals as well as, policymakers, donors, private sector representatives and other partners to strengthen the bridges of cooperation among them to contribute to better health of everyone.

The event will also be covered on livestream from 26 to 29 May 2014.

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