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New Resources Available on Tackling the Double Burden of Malnutrition

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The double burden of malnutrition (DBM) is an epidemic that continues to impact the lives of millions of people worldwide. One in three people are affected by malnutrition. In response to the growing impact of DBM on populations and to move the DBM agenda forward, the symposium report, a brochure and the proceedings from the International Symposium on Understanding the Double Burden of Malnutrition for Effective Interventions have now been published.

“An important conclusion from the Symposium was that better data are needed to monitor and evaluate interventions, programmes and policies tackling the DBM,” said Cornelia Loechl, Head of the Nutritional and Health-Related Environmental Studies Section. “Stable isotope techniques can help to more accurately assess different forms of malnutrition. These techniques have been suggested as a way to provide better information on breastfeeding practices and body composition.”

The Symposium report provides a general snapshot of all sessions and side events. The brochure gives a brief overview of the opportunities to reduce the DBM synthesised from the discussions during the symposium. The proceedings, which were published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, comprise thirteen papers that highlight topics such as the importance of the preconception period and the first 1,000 days of life, accurate assessment of different aspects of the DBM, regional examples of programmes and policies, ways to bridge biology to implementation and identify research gaps.

Many low- and middle-income countries today are affected by the double burden of malnutrition from both undernutrition and overweight and obesity. Undernutrition and overnutrition are linked, so effective action to combat the DBM requires action that addresses more than one dimension of malnutrition at a time.

Combating malnutrition in all its forms is one of the major global health challenges, which is why, on 1 April 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition from 2016 to 2025.

The Symposium was organized in December 2018 by the IAEA, the United Nations Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and attracted representatives from over 90 countries worldwide. For more information, including the recorded livestream, consult the symposium website.

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