Beyond the First 1,000 Days: Mitigating the Global Malnutrition Crisis, with a Focus on Adolescence

June 16 – 17 conference in Wageningen, Netherlands takes on adolescent health and three other global research challenges to combat malnutrition.

Published June 11, 2014

NEW YORK and WAGENINGEN, NETHERLANDS, June 11, 2014 -The period between conception and a child's 2nd birthday (the first 1,000 days) is a particularly critical time for health interventions. However, there are other key, but neglected, tipping points along the lifecycle when it comes to health, and particularly nutrition.

One critical but neglected period is adolescence, particularly in girls. This age, between 10 -19 years old, is a tipping point for health - the last stop before adulthood for behavioral, biological and social health, because of the potential impact on birth outcomes as well as the long-term health of women. There is little research around nutrition in the female adolescent population, particularly data that is not associated with pregnancy status.

This is about to change.

Filling the Gap

On June 16- 17, the "Forum on International Maternal and Child Nutrition: Initiating Research through Multi-Stakeholder Collaborations," convened by The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences and Wageningen University & Research Centre at Hotel de Wageningsche Berg in Wageningen, will mobilize the international community to adopt new research work. Key influencers-top nutrition researchers, heads of policy organizations, leading program implementation experts, and representatives from public and private institutions in the food and nutrition sector-will gather in a combination of closed-door and public sessions to form partnerships that enhance the understanding of nutrition in adolescence, as well as address three additional research focuses:

-          Biological factors that affect micronutrient interventions,

-          New tools to evaluate diet and nutritional status, and

-          Evidence-based methods for scaling up implementation of interventions.

The research themes are among those that first surfaced in A Global Research Agenda for Nutrition Science, developed by The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and hundreds of nutrition experts from the non-profit and academic sectors.

"The current dearth of research on adolescent nutrition represents a hindrance to effective intervention design and implementation, but also an enormous opportunity for the nutrition science field," says Mandana Arabi, MD, PhD, Executive Director, The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science.

Effective, coordinated, well-funded information will prove critical to developing nutrition interventions that will impact the malnutrition crisis around the world, by impacting the future health of women, as well as their potential offspring.

"To address major nutritional challenges in adolescent health it is essential to join forces in partnerships between academic institutions, NGOs, governments and private partners. This multi-stakeholder strategy will not only provide best evidence but may ensure effective implementation towards improving nutrition and health in a critical period of life.

In addition to the first 1000 days of life, adolescence provides a second chance for improvement," says Frans Kok, PhD, Professor in Nutrition and Health, Head of Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University.

Making an Impact

"Adolescence has been largely neglected, sadly, because people have not appreciated the impact that nutrition in adolescence can have on future development and growth," says Zulfiqar Bhutta, PhD, Head, Division of Women and Child Health, The Aga Khan University, who will present at the Forum.

"In the next few years, I hope to see a focus on mechanisms and basic science research-and not just looking at adolescents as a way to improve birth outcomes; the long-term health outcomes of adolescents themselves is important," adds Bhutta.

The Forum will catalyze action around such necessary nutrition science research in the adolescent population and beyond.

For additional information, view the Forum agenda and speaker list here.

Please note that the public session will take place on the afternoon of June 16; all other sessions are closed-door, invite-only work sessions.

For interview requests and other media inquiries, please contact Diana Friedman at the New York Academy of Sciences (dfriedman@nyas.org; +1-212-298-8645) or Jac Niessen at Wageningen UR (jac.niessen@wur.nl; +31317 485003).

Media are also encouraged to follow conference updates on Twitter at #NutritionResearch2014.

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Wageningen University

Wageningen University is part of Wageningen UR (University & Research Centre). The mission is to explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life. Within Wageningen UR, nine research institutes, both specialized and applied, have joined forces with Wageningen University to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With approximately 30 locations (in the Netherlands, Brazil, Chile, Ethiopia and China), 6,000 members of staff and 9,000 students, Wageningen UR is one of the leading organizations in its domain worldwide. The integral approach to problems and the cooperation between the exact sciences and the technological and social disciplines are at the heart of the Wageningen Approach.

The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science

The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences is dedicated to advancing nutrition science research and knowledge, mobilizing communities, and translating this work into the field. The Sackler Institute is generating a coordinated network across sectors, disciplines, and geographies that promotes open communication; encourages exchange of information and resources; nurtures the next generation of scientists; and affects community intervention design and public policy changes. Visit www.nyas.org/nutrition for more information.

The New York Academy of Sciences

The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With 22,000 members around the world, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at www.nyas.org.