Joined-up approach needed to tackle Asia’s double-burden of malnutrition

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

The forum was held in Jakarta.
The forum was held in Jakarta.

Related tags Nutrition Sustainability Food

‘Food is at the heart of a growing global health crisis’, with a more joined-up approach from governments, industry and individuals needed to tackle the double burden of malnutrition in South East Asia.

That was the view of Dr Gunhild Stordalen, founder and president of the EAT Foundation, as she opened the organisation's Food Forum in Jakarta.

“Food is at the heart of a growing global health crisis… and is also driving some of our greatest environmental challenges,”​ she said.

The event brought together government, industry, academia and civil society to assess the state of food systems, and discuss solutions to improve food security, sustainable use of natural resources, and health and nutrition among populations in Asia.

She added that more integrated knowledge on the links between food, planet and health, as well as clear science-based targets were needed.

“We need the private sector – from the multinationals to the local entrepreneurs – to create new products, services and sustainable business models… to help turn all these great efforts and individual champions into one game-changing movement, we must come together and work together.”

Trade association Food Industry Asia (FIA) partnered with the event and engaged in conversations around tackling challenges related to the double burden of malnutrition in Asia.

These dialogues included leaders from the United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF); the ministries of Health, Agriculture and National Development Planning of the Republic of Indonesia; Nestlé; and the Institute of Nutrition at Mahidol University. 

Reformulation and fortification

Among seven categories of plenary sessions that centred on interventions and solutions to improve food security, sustainability and nutrition intake, FIA spoke on the topic of “Ending Malnutrition: How to Make the Decade of Action of Nutrition A Success”. 

Matt Kovac, FIA’s executive director, participated in a panel discussion moderated by Dr Roland Kupka, Senior Advisor for Micronutrients with UNICEF.

Kovac spoke of FIA’s work through the Asia Roundtable on Food Innovation for Improved Nutrition (ARoFIIN​)  in building trust among stakeholders across multiple sectors in Asia. 

He highlighted how food firms were innovating in areas such as product renovation and fortification, and added that educating children about healthy eating practices, particularly in an urban environment where a sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity is more common, is essential.

As part of the discussion on tackling the double burden of malnutrition and the related challenge of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Asia, FIA also hosted a closed-door session with participants from regional government, industry and academia.

They pledged to work through multi-stakeholder partnerships to formulate and implement the most appropriate and effective community-based interventions.

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