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The aim of the present paper is to review capacity building in public health nutrition (PHN), the need for which has been stressed for many years by a range of academics, national and international organisations. Although great strides have been made worldwide in the science of nutrition, there remain many problems of undernutrition and increasingly of obesity and related chronic diseases. The main emphasis in capacity building has been on the nutrition and health workforce, but the causes of these health problems are multifactorial and require collaboration across sectors in their solution. This means that PHN capacity building has to go beyond basic nutrition and beyond the immediate health workforce to policy makers in other sectors. The present paper provides examples of capacity building activities by various organisations, including universities, industry and international agencies. Examples of web-based courses are given including an introduction to the e-Nutrition Academy. The scope is international but with a special focus on Africa. In conclusion, there remains a great need for capacity building in PHN but the advent of the internet has revolutionised the possibilities.
In 1996 the population of China reached 1.23 billion, 22 % of the world population, and is expected to increase to 1.5 billion by 2020. As China has only 7 % of the world's arable land such population increases are likely to have an important impact on food supply in China and the world. Projections of the potential impact are discussed. The restructuring of Chinese agriculture at the end of the 1970s has led to dramatic increases in agricultural production and food consumption, in particular of animal products, fruit and vegetables. Along with these rapid changes there is evidence of a nutrition transition in which diseases associated with affluence are becoming more prevalent than deficiency diseases. This transition has led to concern about the evolving dietary pattern. The replacement of legumes, including soyabean, by meat and other animal products as rich sources of protein and other nutrients has been controversially argued on grounds of nutritional health, ecological impact, economic effects and world food supply. These arguments are reviewed and the pressures internal and external to China concerning the production and consumption of animal v. legume products are presented. It is concluded that nutritional policies to promote the consumption of soyabean are unlikely to be effective in the context of an increasingly free and global market.
The UK Food Standards Agency convened a group of expert scientists to review current research investigating factors affecting iron status and the bioavailability of dietary iron. Results presented at the workshop show menstrual blood loss to be the major determinant of body iron stores in premenopausal women. In the presence of abundant and varied food supplies, the health consequences of lower iron bioavailability are unclear and require further investigation.
The effect of dietary intake of flavonols (predominantly quercetin) on oxidative DNA damage was studied in thirty-six healthy human subjects (sixteen men, twenty women). The study was a randomised crossover study, comprising two 14 d treatments of either a low-flavonol (LF) or high-flavonol (HF) diet with a 14 d wash-out period between treatments. Subjects were asked to avoid foods containing flavonols, flavones and flavanols during the LF dietary treatment period and to consume one 150 g onion (Allium cepa) cake (containing 89·7 mg quercetin) and one 300 ml cup of black tea (containing 1·4 mg quercetin) daily during the HF dietary treatment. A 7 d food diary was kept during each dietary period and blood samples were taken after each dietary treatment. Products of oxidative damage to DNA bases were measured in DNA from leucocytes. The study had more than 95 % power to detect a change of 20 % in DNA damage products Plasma vitamin C and plasma quercetin concentrations were also measured. No significant differences in intake of macronutrients or assessed micronutrients, measured DNA base damage products, or plasma vitamin C were found between the HF and LF dietary treatments. The plasma quercetin concentration was significantly higher after the HF dietary treatment period (228·5 (SEM 34·7) nmol/l) than after the LF dietary treatment period (less than the limit of detection, i.e. <66·2 nmol/l). These findings do not support the hypothesis that dietary quercetin intake substantially affects oxidative DNA damage in leucocytes.
Vitamin A status of 260 groups of twenty-five males or twenty-five females, aged 35–64 years, surveyed in twenty-four provinces of the People's Republic of China, was assessed by measuring plasma retinol, retinol-binding protein and β-carotene concentrations. Direct measurements of food intake over a 3 d period and questionnaire data on the frequency of consumption of vegetables, fruit, animal products and other dietary items were also used. Vitamin A status appeared to be low only in specific counties but in general was satisfactory or only marginally deficient. Plasma harotene levels were strikingly low in comparison with Western levels despite generous vegetable consumption suggwg that intake of vitamin A precursors may have been adequate but not abundant enough to maintain high circulating plasma levels of β-carotene. Plasma β-carotene, for both males and females, was significantly correlated with the frequency of consumption of green vegetables. Plasma retinol, for males, was highly correlated with meat, fish, oil and alcohol consumption expresPed both in quantity or frequency of consumption. Higher levels of plasma retinol, together with lower levels of plasma β-carotene in males compared with females, suggest that men consume more animal products or may have higher retinol requirements and therefore a higher rate of conversion of β-carotene to retinol.
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