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This article reviews information on the rapid changes in diet, activity and body composition that lower- and middle-income countries are undergoing and then examines some of the potential health implications of this transition.
Design and Setting:
Data came from numerous countries and also from national food balance (FAOSTAT) and World Bank sources. Nationally representative and nationwide surveys are used. The nationally representative Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Surveys from 1992–96 and the nationwide China Health and Nutrition Survey from 1989–93 are examined in detail.
Rapid changes in the structure of diet, in particular associated with urbanization, are documented. In addition, large changes in occupation types are documented. These are linked with rapid increases in adult obesity in Latin America and Asia. Some of the potential implications for adult health are noted.
The rapid changes in diet, activity and obesity that are facing billions of residents of lower- and middle-income countries are cause for great concern. Linked with these changes will be a rapid increase in chronic diseases. Little to date has been done at the national level to address these problems.
To review current information on under- and over-malnutrition and the consequences of socioeconomic disparities on global nutrition and health.
Malnutrition, both under and over, can no longer be addressed without considering global food insecurity, socioeconomic disparity, both globally and nationally, and global cultural, social and epidemiological transitions.
The economic gap between the more and less affluent nations is growing. At the same time income disparity is growing within most countries, both developed and developing. Concurrently, epidemiological, demographic and nutrition transitions are taking place in many countries.
Fully one-third of young children in the world's low-income countries are stunted because of malnutrition. One-half of all deaths among young children are, in part, a consequence of malnutrition. Forty per cent of women in the developing world suffer from iron deficiency anaemia, a major cause of maternal mortality and low birth weight infants. Despite such worrying trends, there have been significant increases in life expectancy in nearly all countries of the world, and continuing improvements in infant mortality rates. The proportion of children malnourished has generally decreased, although actual numbers have not in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. Inequalities are increasing between the richest developed countries and the poorest developing countries. Social inequality is an important factor in differential mortality in both developed and developing countries. Many countries have significant pockets of malnutrition and increased mortality of children, while obesity and non-communicable disease (NCDs) prevalences are increasing. Not infrequently it is the poor and relatively disadvantaged sectors of the population who are suffering both. In the industrialized countries. cardiovascular disease incidence has declined, but less so in the poorer socioeconomic strata.
The apparent contradicitions found represent a particular point in time (population responses generally lag behind social and environmental transitions). They do also show encouraging evidence that interventions can have a positive impact, sometimes despite disadvantageous circumstances. However, it seems increasingly unlikely that food production will continue to keep up with population growth. It is also unlikely present goals for reducing protein-energy malnutrition prevalence will be reached. The coexistence of diseases of undernutrition and NCDs will have an impact on allocation of resources. Action needs to be continued and maintained at the international, national and individual level.
To compare the mortality rates of vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
Collaborative analysis using original data from five prospective studies. Death rate ratios for vegetarians compared to non-vegetarians were calculated for ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, cancers of the stomach, large bowel, lung, breast and prostate, and for all causes of death. All results were adjusted for age, sex and smoking. A random effects model was used to calculate pooled estimates of effect for all studies combined.
USA, UK and Germany.
76, 172 men and women aged 16–89 years at recruitment. Vegetarians were those who did not eat any meat or fish (n = 27,808). Non-vegetarians were from a similar background to the vegetarians within each study.
After a mean of 10.6 years of follow-up there were 8330 deaths before the age of 90 years, including 2264 deaths from ischaemic heart disease. In comparison with non-vegetarians, vegetarians had a 24% reduction in mortality from ischaemic heart disease (death rate ratio 0.76, 95% CI 0.62–0.94). The reduction in mortality among vegetarians varied significantly with age at death: rate ratios for vegetarians compared to non-vegetarians were 0.55 (95% CI 0.35—0.85), 0.69 (95% CI 0.53–0.90) and 0.92 (95% CI 0.73–1.16) for deaths from ischaemic heart disease at ages <65, 65–79 and 80–89 years, respectively. When the non-vegetarians were divided into regular meat eaters (who ate meat at least once a week) and semi-vegetarians (who ate fish only or ate meat less than once a week), the ischaemic heart disease death rate ratios compared to regular meat eaters were 0.78 (95% CI 0.68–0.89) in semi-vegetarians and 0.66 (95% CI 0.53–0.83) in vegetarians (test for trend P<0.001). There were no significant differences between vegetarians and non-vegetarians in mortality from the other causes of death examined.
Vegetarians have a lower risk of dying from ischaemic heart disease than non-vegetarians.
To describe food consumption during the school day of rural Jamaican children and participation in two government school feeding programmes. To determine factors which were related to these.
16 primary schools in rural Jamaica.
415 children in grades 2 and 5 (ages 7 and 10 years).
Consumption of sweets, sweet drinks and snacks was high. Mean intakes at lunch were: energy 1537 kJ (SD 756), protein 10.4 g (SD 7.6) and iron 1.5 mg (SD 1.2). The mean energy intake was 17–20% of the daily requirement for this age group. Two types of school feeding programmes were available in the schools, one provided a cooked meal and the other a bun and milk. Median availability of school meals (as a percentage of children enrolled in the schools) over three terms was 24.6% (range 0–85.4%). Twenty per cent of the children participated in one or other programme. Poorer children were more likely to participate in the bun and milk programme (odds ratio 2.1, 95% C1 1.3–3.5) but children with more money to purchase food participated in the more costly cooked meal programme (odds ratio 2.4, 95% CI 1.3–4.6).
Energy intakes at lunch in Jamaican children were somewhat below optimal levels and the reliance on sweets and snacks is an area of concern. Programme characteristics such as meal cost, may affect access to school feeding by poor children.
The objective of this paper is to examine the impact of the Health Service Research Project of the Pakistan Medical Research Council (PMRC) on mothers and infants in Budhni village, North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Pakistan.
Information from the PMRC records on the socioeconomic and demographic situation over the last 10 years and anthropometric measurements made on all infants from 1986–96 were collected and analysed.
The demographic data showed a number of changes, namely a reduction in birth rate and improvements in perinatal, neonatal, infant and child mortality rates. Literacy in the village was poor (27 and 39% literate in 1986 and 1996, respectively) and female literacy showed no improvement (14%). Improvements in sanitation and in the water supply introduced by the PMRC had limited success, as clean water was subsequently contaminated by unclean hands and utensils, and 50% of the population continued to use open fields for sanitation. In 1986 only 27% of children 0–5 years were vaccinated, but by 1996, 96% of children had completed polio, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) and bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination programmes and 95% of women of child-bearing age were vaccinated against tetanus. Protection against tetanus reduced neonatal deaths and from 1333 onwards there have been no further cases.
Anthropometric data for the period 1986–96 for infants (0–24 months) showed that at birth the majority of infants were close to the 50th National Centre for Health Statistics (NCHS) centile for weight and length, and only 5% of birth-weights were less than 2.5 kg. Growth charts showed faltering in length and weight and by 24-months length in both boys and girls was below the 3rd NCHS centile and weights were just above.
Reductions in child mortality have occurred over the period 1986–96. However, the slow progress in adopting hygienic practices, despite health education, and the low literacy rates, particularly in women, may hamper continued improvement.
To assess attitudes, predictors of intention, and identify perceived barriers to increasing fruit and vegetable (F&V) intakes.
UK nationwide postal survey utilizing the theory of planned behaviour.
Stratified (by social class and region) random sample of 2020 UK adults providing a modest response rate of 37% (n = 741).
Belief measures (e.g. health, cost, taste, etc.) were strongly associated with overall attitudes which were reported as being largely favourable towards fruit, vegetables and, to a lesser extent, vegetable dishes, and were strongly associated with reported intention to increase consumption. Subjects reported they could increase their consumption, but this was only weakly associated with intention to do so. Approximately 50% of respondents reported an intention to increase intakes. Social pressure was strongly associated with reported intention to increase; however, scores indicated low perceived social pressure to change. Evidence of unrealistic optimism concerning perceived intakes and the perceived high cost of fruit may also act as barriers.
Results from this study suggest a lack of perceived social pressure to increase F&V intakes and suggests that public health efforts require stronger and broader health messages that incorporate consumer awareness of low present consumption.
To describe how the Nutrition Society developed public health nutrition as a profession between 1992 and 1997, and to analyse the influences propelling on this professionalization.
Qualitative case study.
The Nutrition Society of Britain consulted with various stakeholders (such as dietitians, researchers, professionals and practitioners and educators from the UK, and latterly from mainland Europe) to build a consensus about the definition, roles and functions of public health nutritionists and the need for, and scope of, this new profession. Building on this consensus, the Society developed a curriculum in line with British national nutrition policy. Analysis shows that the design and philosophy of the curriculum is explicitly international and European in orientation, in keeping with the tradition of the discipline and the Society. The curriculum is designed in terms of specialist competencies in public health nutrition, defining competency so that registered public health nutritionists are advanced practitioners or leaders: this is in keeping with contemporary trends in professional education generally and as expressed by the UNU/IUNS and at Bellagio, in nutrition in particular.
Despite a unique relationship with British state and policy, this case of professionalization contributes to contemporary international inter- and intraprofessional debates about the nature of public health nutrition and is consistent with professional educational theory.