Nutritional and Health-Related Environmental Studies (NAHRES)
Good nutrition is central to development. Unfortunately, slow progress toward reduction of neonatal deaths and maternal mortality rates is likely to prevent many countries from achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and can be substantially attributed to the global health problem of malnutrition. Effective nutrition interventions are urgently needed to improve maternal and newborn health.
The IAEA’s work complements the work of other UN agencies, NGO’s and other major players in nutrition and health by encouraging useful nuclear techniques to develop and evaluate interventions to combat malnutrition in all its forms. These nuclear techniques, in particular stable (non radioactive) isotope techniques, add value by improving the specificity and sensitivity of nutritional evaluations such as the assessment of body composition, bone mineral density, total daily energy expenditure, intake of human milk in breastfed infants, vitamin A status, and bioavailability of micronutrients from foods (see IAEA Nutrition Factsheet). Although stable isotope techniques have been used as research tools in nutrition for many years, the application of these techniques in programme development and evaluation is a relatively new approach where the IAEA has a unique opportunity to contribute technical expertise. The IAEA has fostered the more widespread use of these techniques in Member States through support to national and regional nutrition projects via the Technical Cooperation Programme and through Coordinated Research Projects addressing priority areas in nutrition over many years.
During the last few years, nutrition at the IAEA has focused on priority areas related to improved nutrition to achieve the MDGs (#1,4,5 and 6); i.e., maternal, newborn and child health as well as infectious diseases in close collaboration with relevant partners, in particular the World Health Organization. Other examples of activities in nutrition at the IAEA include support to the International Malnutrition Task Force (jointly with WHO, UNICEF, the International Paediatric Association and the International Union of Nutritional Sciences) to address severe acute malnutrition in young children as well as work on sustainable, food based strategies to combat micronutrient deficiencies by biofortification of staple foods in collaboration with HarvestPlus.
In 2010, St John’s Research Institute, Bangalore, India was designated the first IAEA Collaborating Centre for Nutrition. The Institute´s research focuses on nutrition as well as on infectious and lifestyle-related diseases, and is an excellent example of a centre where stable isotope technique is being used for nutrition-related research and programme evaluation.
Designing Better Nutrition Programmes. The role of nuclear technology.
IAEA Nutrition Factsheet (2012)