Publications

    Anabieza M, Pajaro M, Reyes G, Tiburcio F, Watts P. Philippine Alliance of Fisherfolk: Ecohealth Practitioners for Livelihood and Food Security. EcoHealth [Internet]. 2010;7 :394-399. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Pamana Ka Sa Pilipinas (Pamana) is a grassroots fisherfolk alliance of Philippine Marine Protected Areas with more than 6,000 individual fisherfolk and their 30,000 family members. Access to food, education, and health services for Philippine fisherfolk families is directly dependant upon the fish harvest and related health of the marine environment. Pamana represents a unique ‘‘ecohealth’’ strategy, linking the health of coastal people and that of their surrounding marine ecosystem. Pamana’s activities are viewed by both their membership and barangay (village) health workers as a contribution to nutritional and community health. The alliance has developed an approach to the empowerment of fisherfolk that has led to improvement in health, food security, and nutritional status of their communities. The development of Pamana provides a model for building capacity in other fishing- and resource-based cultures, through engagement and empowerment. In less developed countries, grassroots initiatives, such as Pamana, may be the only solution for sustainable fisheries contributions to food security, given the challenges of fisherfolk poverty, environmental degradation, and limited finances. 

    Garaway CJ, Photitay C, Roger K, Khamsivilay L, Halwart M. Biodiversity and Nutrition in Rice-Based Ecosystems; the Case of Lao PDR. Hum Ecol [Internet]. 2013;41 :547-562. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    This paper presents results from a year-long household survey in which the aquatic resource collection and consumption activities of 240 households across Lao PDR were studied to assess the diversity of species used, their role in household food security and the overall impor- tance of ricefield habitats in this respect. Results show that aquatic biodiversity, under threat in rice-based ecosystems, plays a larger role in household consumption than previous estimates. More than 90 % of these resources are collected by households themselves and the greatest quantities from ricefield habitats. This seasonal aquatic environment is there- fore the principal habitat from which households acquire aquatic animals, both to eat fresh and to process and store for use during nutritionally vulnerable times of year. The importance of these habitats therefore goes far beyond their use for rice production and this multi-functionality needs to be understood and addressed in agricultural, conservation and food security policy. 

    Johns T, Powell B, Maundu P, Eyzaguirre PB. Agricultural Biodiversity as a Link Between Traditional Food Systems and Contemporary Development, Social Integrity and Ecological Health. J Sci Food Agric [Internet]. 2013;93 :3433-3442. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Traditional food systems offer a key link between the social and economic resilience of smallholder farmers and pastoralists and the sustainable food and nutrition security of global populations. This paper addresses issues related to socio-cultural diversity and the continuing complex engagement of traditional and modern communities with the plants and animals that sustain them. In light of some of the unhealthful consequences of the ‘nutrition transition’ to globalized modern diets, the authors define and propose a process for a more successful food system transition that balances agro-biodiversity and processed commodities to support diet diversity, health and social equity alongside sustainable economic growth. We review empirical research in support of practice and policy changes in agriculture, economic development and health domains as well as cross-sectoral and community-based innovation. High-value food crops within domestic and global value chains can be an entry point for smallholders’ participation as contributors and beneficiaries of development, while sustainable small farms, as purveyors of environmental and public health services, diversify global options for long-term adaptation in the face of environmental uncertainty. 

    Kahane R, Hodgkin T, Jaenicke H, Hoogendoorn C, Hermann M, Keatinge JDH, d'Arros Hughes J, Padulosi S, Looney N. Agrobiodiversity for Food Security, Health and Income. Agron Sustain Dev [Internet]. 2013;33 :671-693. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    By the year 2050, agriculture will have to provide the food and nutrition requirements of some 9 billion peo- ple. Moreover, to maintain that level of productivity indef- initely it must do so using environmentally sustainable production systems. This task will be profoundly compli- cated by the effects of climate change, increasing compe- tition for water resources and loss of productive lands. Agricultural production methods will also need to recog- nize and accommodate ongoing rural to urban migration and address a host of economic, ecological and social concerns about the ‘high inputs/high outputs’ model of present-day industrial agriculture. At the same time, there is a need to confront the unacceptable levels of continuing food and nutrition insecurity, greatest in the emerging economy countries of Africa and Asia where poverty, rapid population growth and climate change present additional challenges and where agriculture is practiced primarily by small-scale farmers. Within this context, we here review science-based evidence arguing that diversification with greater use of highly valuable but presently under- valorised crops and species should be an essential element of any model for sustainable smallholder agriculture. The major points of these development opportunity crops are presented in four sections: agricultural farming systems, health and nutrition, environmental sustainability and pros- perity of the populations. For each section, these crops and their associated indigenous knowledge are reported to bring benefits and services when integrated with food systems. In this paper, we conclude that not only a change in policy is needed to influence behaviours and practices but also strong leadership able to synergize the various initiatives and implement an action plan. 

    Johns T, Sthapit BR. Biocultural Diversity in the Sustainability of Developing-country Food Systems. Food and Nutrition Bulletin [Internet]. 2004;25 :143-155. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    The policy implications of a model of contemporary food systems for developing countries that integrates nutri- tion, reduction of disease risk, culture, income genera- tion, and biodiversity are reviewed within a theoretical and empirical examination of the relevance of nutrition to the priorities put forward at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, 2002. Agricultural, health, economic, and social policies with local reach are necessary responses to the increase in noncommunicable disease associated with the globali- zation of food systems. Nutrition offers a nexus for the changes in individual behavior and motivation essential for fundamental shifts in production and consumption patterns. Mutual consideration of biocultural diversity and nutrition can guide policy, research, promotion, and applied action in developing countries. Benefits from enhanced use of biodiversity must legitimately flow to the undernourished poor, while potential negative conse- quences must be minimized and mitigated. Quality and quantity of food need not be mutually exclusive. Func- tions related to energy density, glycemic control, oxidative stress, and immunostimulation define important research priorities. Tests of the hypothesis that biodiversity equates with dietary diversity and health might combine quanti- tative indicators of dietary and biological diversity with nutrition and health outcomes. Biodiversity, where it is part of traditional agricultural and food systems, can be best conserved and enhanced through rational use within a broad-based developmental focus on small-scale and low-input production. The fact that traditional systems, once lost, are hard to recreate underlines the imperative for timely documentation, compilation, and dissemina- tion of eroding knowledge of biodiversity and the use of food culture for promoting positive behaviors. 

    Brown ME, Grace K, Shively G, Johnson KB, Carroll M. Using Satellite Remote Sensing and Household Survey Data to Assess Human Health and Nutrition Response to Environmental Change. Popul Environ [Internet]. 2014. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Climate change and degradation of ecosystem services functioning may threaten the ability of current agricultural systems to keep up with demand for adequate and inexpensive food and for clean water, waste disposal and other broader ecosystem services. Human health is likely to be affected by changes occurring across multiple geographic and time scales. Impacts range from increasing transmissibility and the range of vectorborne diseases, such as malaria and yellow fever, to undermining nutrition through deleterious impacts on food production and concomitant increases in food prices. This paper uses case studies to describe methods that make use of satellite remote sensing and Demographic and Health Survey data to better understand individual-level human health and nutrition outcomes. By bringing these diverse datasets together, the connection between environmental change and human health outcomes can be described through new research and analysis. 

    Stadlmayr B, Charrondiere UR, Eisenwagen S, Jamnadass R, Kehlenbeck K. Nutrient Composition of Selected Indigenous Fruits from Sub-Saharan Africa. J Sci Food Agric. 2013;93 :2627-2636.Abstract

    Indigenous fruits constitute an important part of human diets in many sub-Saharan African countries, particularly in rural areas and during droughts. In order to promote and expand the utilisation of these fruits, knowledge on their nutritional composition is essential. This review presents the results of a literature research of the nutritional composition of ten selected indigenous fruits from sub-Saharan Africa. Species were selected based on their current importance as well as their future potential for nutrition, processing and cash income generation. Compositional data were compiled and mean values of components per species were calculated. Most papers were compiled for Adansonia digitata (26) and Dacryodes edulis (16), followed by Tamarindus indica (ten), Balanites aegyptiaca (nine), Sclerocarya birrea (nine), Ziziphus mauritiana (nine), Vitex doniana (seven) and Irvingia gabonensis (five), and least for Uapaca kirkiana (three) and Syzygium guineense (three). Fruits were found to be mainly analysed for macronutrients and minerals. Vitamins, apart from vitamin C, were rarely reported. Substantial compositional differences were found among as well as within the different fruit species. The results of this study emphasise the need to generate more high-quality data on a wider spectrum of components of the selected indigenous fruits in sub-Saharan Africa. 

     

    Raubenheimer D, Rothman JM. Nutritional Ecology of Entomophagy in Humans and Other Primates. Annu Rev Entomol [Internet]. 2013;58 :141-160. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Entomophagy is widespread among nonhuman primates and is common among many human communities. However, the extent and patterns of en- tomophagy vary substantially both in humans and nonhuman primates. Here we synthesize the literature to examine why humans and other primates eat insects and what accounts for the variation in the extent to which they do so. Variation in the availability of insects is clearly important, but less under- stood is the role of nutrients in entomophagy. We apply a multidimensional analytical approach, the right-angled mixture triangle, to published data on the macronutrient compositions of insects to address this. Results showed that insects eaten by humans spanned a wide range of protein-to-fat ratios but were generally nutrient dense, whereas insects with high protein-to-fat ratios were eaten by nonhuman primates. Although suggestive, our survey exposes a need for additional, standardized, data. 

    Fa JE, Currie D, Meeuwig J. Bushmeat and Food Security in the Congo Basin: Linkages Between Wildlife and People's Future. Environmental Conservation [Internet]. 2003;30 (1) :71-78. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Tropical moist forests in Africa are concentrated in the Congo Basin. A variety of animals in these forests, in particular mammals, are hunted for their meat, termed bushmeat. This paper investigates current and future trends of bushmeat protein, and non-bushmeat protein supply, for inhabitants of the main Congo Basin countries. Since most bushmeat is derived from forest mammals, published extraction (E) and production (P) estimates of mammal populations were used to calculate the per person protein supplied by these. Current bushmeat protein supply may range from 30 g person1 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to 180 g person1 in Gabon. Future bushmeat protein supplies were predicted for the next 50 years by employing current E:P ratios, and controlling for known deforestation and population growth rates. At current exploitation rates, bushmeat protein supply would drop 81% in all countries in less than 50 years; only three countries would be able to maintain a protein supply above the recommended daily requirement of 52 g person1. However, if bushmeat harvests were reduced to a sustainable level, all countries except Gabon would be dramatically affected by the loss of wild protein supply. The dependence on bushmeat protein is emphasized by the fact that four out of the five countries studied do not produce sufficient amounts of non-bushmeat protein to feed their populations. These findings imply that a significant number of forest mammals could become extinct relatively soon, and that protein malnutrition is likely to increase dramatically if food security in the region is not promptly resolved.

    Powell B, Hall J, Johns T. Forest Cover, Use, Dietary Intake in the East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania. International Forestry Review [Internet]. 2011;13 (3) :305-324. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Food insecurity and malnutrition in local populations both result from and drive deforestation. This paper examines the relationships between diet of local people and measures of forest cover and use in the East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania. Data on dietary diversity and intake were collected for 270 children and their mothers. Area of tree cover within the vicinity of each household was examined in relation to forest use and diet. Individuals using foods from forest and other non-farm land had higher dietary diversity, consumed more animal source foods and had more nutrient dense diets. They also had more tree cover in a close proximity to the home, suggesting a relationship between tree cover and forest food use. Households reporting trips to the forest had lower area of tree cover within close proximity, suggesting that land close to the home with tree cover such as agroforest and fallow is important for obtaining subsistence products. Although historically there has been little motivation for local people to participate in forest conservation in the East Usambaras, the maintenance of tree cover in the landscape around the home, especially on agricultural and village land, may be important in ensuring continued access to the health benefits potentially available in wild and forest foods. 

    Jamieson JA, Weiler HA, Kuhnlein HV, Egeland GM. Traditional Food Intake Is Correlated with Iron Stores in Canadian Inuit Men. J Nutr [Internet]. 2012;142 :764-770. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Accelerated loss of traditional lifestyles may place Inuit at risk of iron depletion given that anemia has been observed among Arctic men. The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence of anemia, storage iron depletion, and iron overload and to identify correlates of iron status in Canadian Inuit men. In a cross-sectional survey of 994 men in the International Polar Year Inuit Health Survey, 2007–2008, hemoglobin, serum ferritin (SF), soluble transferrin receptor (on a subset), CRP, RBC fatty acid composition, and Helicobacter pylori serology were measured in venous blood drawn from fasting men. Anthropometric, dietary, sociodemographic, and health data were collected. Dietary and nondietary correlates of iron status were assessed with multiple linear and logistic models. For men with CRP #10 mg/L (n = 804), 6.5% had depleted, 19.8% had low, and 10.3% had elevated iron stores. Anemia was moderately prevalent (16.1%), but iron deficiency anemia was less common (2.4%). There was a low probability of dietary iron inadequacy (2.4% , Estimated Average Requirement) and excess iron intakes (10.7% . Tolerable Upper Intake Level). Food-insecure men and those without a household hunter had a higher risk of low or depleted iron stores. Adiposity, traditional food intake, long- chain RBC PUFA status, and inflammation were positively associated with SF and food insecurity, smoking, and H. pylori seropositivity were negatively associated with SF. Despite a moderate prevalence of anemia, iron stores are largely adequate in this population, although lower than expected based on iron intake. The regulation of iron metabolism in this population and the high prevalence of anemia in older men warrants further investigation. 

    Kuhnlein HV, Receveur O. Local Cultural Animal Food Contributes High Levels of Nutrients for Arctic Canadian Indigenous Adults and Children. The Journal of Nutrition [Internet]. 2007;137 :1110-1114. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Food systems of Canadian Arctic Indigenous Peoples contain many species of traditional animal and plant food, but the extent of use today is limited because purchased food displaces much of the traditional species from the diet. Frequency and 24-h dietary interviews of Arctic adults and children were used to investigate these trends. The most frequently consumed Arctic foods were derived from animals and fish. In adults these foods contributed 6–40% of daily energy of adults. Children ate much less, 0.4–15% of energy, and .40% of their total energy was contributed by ‘‘sweet’’ and ‘‘fat’’ food sources. Nevertheless, for adults and children, even a single portion of local animal or fish food resulted in increased (P , 0.05) levels of energy, protein, vitamin D, vitamin E, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and potassium; although children had similar results for these nutrients, they did not reach significance for energy, vitamin D, or manganese. Because market foods are the major source of energy in the Arctic, traditional animal-source foods are extremely important to ensure high dietary quality of both adults and children. 

    Powell B, Maundu P, Kuhnlein HV, Johns T. Wild Foods from Farm and Forest in the East Usambara Mountains Tanzania. Ecology of Food and Nutrition [Internet]. 2013;52 :451-478. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    This study explored the role of wild foods in the diets of children and mothers in the East Usambara Mountains (N = 274 dyads). We identified 92 wild food species. Although dietary diversity (most measures) was not different between seasons, wild foods accounted for a greater percentage of items consumed in the wet (food insecure) season. Many wild foods were obtained on farm; wild foods obtained from the forest accounted for less than 3% of food items consumed. Wild foods were used by virtually all informants but contributed only 2% of total energy in the diet. However, they con- tributed large percentages of vitamin A (RAE) (31%), vitamin C (20%), and iron (19.19%). Agricultural factors (e.g., hours spent in farm) were associated with greater wild food use. These findings suggest participation in agriculture may be important for the maintenance of wild food use, and that wild foods can play an important role in the nutritional resilience of local people.

    Cohen N, Jalil MA, Rahman H, Matin MA, Sprague J, Islam J, Davison J, Regt LDE, Mitra M. Landholding, Wealth, and Risk of Blinding Malnutrition in Rural Bangladesh Households. Soc Sci Med [Internet]. 1985;21 (11) :1269-1272. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    The 1982-1983 Bangladesh nutritional blindness study visited 11,618 rural households and examined 18,660 preschool-age children in an effort to determine the prevalence and determinants of eye lesions and loss of sight due to vitamin A deficiency (xerophthalmia). Risk of xerophthalmia was significantly higher for children from households without any of the indicators of relative wealth used. Almost 80% of blind children came from landless households, and even a very small garden reduced considerably the chances of a household having a xerophthalmic child. Poorer households with access to less than 0.3 acres land or no garden or without a tin roof, wristwatch, radio or cycle were at least twice as likely as their more fortunate neighbours to have a young child with any type of xerophthalmia. Taking account of such socio-environmental risk factor weightings would direct the scarce resources of intervention programmes to households and children who most need them. 

    Johnson KB, Jacob A, Brown ME. Forest Cover Associated with Improved Child Health and Nutrition: Evidence from the Malawi Demographic and Health Survey and Satellite Data. Global Health: Science and Practice [Internet]. 2013;1 (2) :237-247. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Healthy forests provide human communities with a host of important ecosystem services, including the provision of food, clean water, fuel, and natural medicines. Yet globally, about 13 million hectares of forests are lost every year, with the biggest losses in Africa and South America. As biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation due to deforestation continue at unprecedented rates, with concomitant loss of ecosystem services, impacts on human health remain poorly understood. Here, we use data from the 2010 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey, linked with satellite remote sensing data on forest cover, to explore and better understand this relationship. Our analysis finds that forest cover is associated with improved health and nutrition outcomes among children in Malawi. Children living in areas with net forest cover loss between 2000 and 2010 were 19% less likely to have a diverse diet and 29% less likely to consume vitamin A-rich foods than children living in areas with no net change in forest cover. Conversely, children living in communities with higher percentages of forest cover were more likely to consume vitamin A-rich foods and less likely to experience diarrhea. Net gain in forest cover over the 10-year period was associated with a 34% decrease in the odds of children experiencing diarrhea (P5.002). Given that our analysis relied on observational data and that there were potential unknown factors for which we could not account, these preliminary findings demonstrate only associations, not causal relationships, between forest cover and child health and nutrition outcomes. However, the findings raise concerns about the potential short- and long-term impacts of ongoing deforestation and ecosystem degradation on community health in Malawi, and they suggest that preventing forest loss and maintaining the ecosystem services of forests are important factors in improving human health and nutrition outcomes.

    Jamnadass RH, Dawson IK, Franzel S, Leakey RRB, Mithofer D, Akinnifesi FK, Tchoundjeu Z. Improving Livelihoods and Nutrition in sub-Saharan African through the Promotion of Indigenous and Exotic Fruit Production in Smallholders' Agroforestry Systems: A Review. International Forestry Review. 2011;13 (3) :338-354.Abstract

    The cultivation of indigenous and exotic fruits for sub-Saharan Africa’s domestic markets can bring increased revenues for smallholders and improve the diets of local consumers. There are, however, many bottlenecks which need to be addressed so that wider benefits from such activities are realised. Here, we describe key interventions being taken to address current constraints. For indigenous fruit trees, it is necessary to set priorities for which species to promote and to engage in participatory domestication for the improvement of yield, quality and germplasm delivery to farmers. For exotic fruits, ‘south-south’ transfer of advanced cultivars and the development of small-scale commercial suppliers of planting material are required to reinvigorate production. For both indigenous and exotic species, a focus on improving market value chains to bring greater benefits to producers is needed. We describe where further work is required to increase efficiency in the sector and to favour smallholder involvement. 

    Myers SS, Zanobetti A, Kloog I, Huygers P, Leakey ADB, Bloom AJ, Carlisle E, Dietterich LH, Fitzgerald G, Hasewaga T, et al. Increasing CO2 Threatens Human Nutrition. Nature. 2014;510 :139-143.Abstract

    Dietary deficiencies of zinc and iron are a substantial global public health problem. An estimated two billion people suffer these deficiencies, causing a loss of 63 million life-years annually. Most of these people depend on C3 grains and legumes as their primary dietary source of zinc and iron. Here we report that C3 grains and legumes have lower concentrations of zinc and iron when grown under field conditions at the elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration predicted for the middle of this century. C3 crops other than legumes also have lower concentrations of protein, whereas C4 crops seem to be less affected. Differences between cultivars of a single crop suggest that breeding for decreased sensitivity to atmospheric CO2 concentration could partly address these new challenges to global health. 

    Macdiarmid JI. Is a Healthy Diet an Environmentally Sustainable Diet?. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society [Internet]. 2012. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    The concept of a healthy and environmentally sustainable diet is not new, but with increasing concern about future global food security and climate change there is a renewed interest in this topic. Dietary intakes in UK accounts for approximately 20–30% of total annual greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE), with the greatest contributions coming from high intakes of meat and dairy products. Dietary proposals to help mitigate climate change (i.e. reduce GHGE) have focused on reducing consumption of meat and dairy products, but this must be considered in the context of the whole diet, alongside any possible nutritional consequences for health. Bringing together health and environmental impact of the diet raises the question of whether a healthy diet can also be an environmentally sustainable diet. While recent research showed that it is possible to achieve a realistic diet that meets dietary requirement for health and has lower GHGE, it cannot be assumed that a healthy diet will always have lower GHGE. With different combinations of food it is possible to consume a diet that meets dietary requirements for health, but has high GHGE. It is important to understand what constitutes a sustainable diet, but this then needs to be communicated effectively to try and change well-established dietary intakes of the population. Studies show that understanding of sustainable diets is poor and there are many misconceptions (e.g. the overestimation of the protein requirements for a healthy diet), which could contribute to the barriers towards changing dietary intakes. 

    Termote C, Meyi MB, Djailo BD, Huybregts L, Lachat C, Kolsteren P, Damme PV. A Biodiverse Rich Environment Does Not Contribute to a Better Diet: A Case Study from DR Congo. PLoS ONE [Internet]. 2012;7 (1) :e30533. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    The potential of biodiversity to increase and sustain nutrition security is increasingly recognized by the international research community. To date however, dietary assessment studies that have assessed how biodiversity actually contributes to human diets are virtually absent. This study measured the contribution of wild edible plants (WEP) to the dietary quality in the high biodiverse context of DR Congo. The habitual dietary intake was estimated from 2 multiple-pass 24 h dietary recalls for 363 urban and 129 rural women. All WEP were collected during previous ethnobotanical investigations and identified and deposited in the National Botanical Garden of Belgium (BR). Results showed that in a high biodiverse region with precarious food security, WEP are insufficiently consumed to increase nutrition security or dietary adequacy. The highest contribution came from Dacryodes edulis in the village sample contributing 4.8% of total energy intake. Considering the nutrient composition of the many WEP available in the region and known by the indigenous populations, the potential to increase nutrition security is vast. Additional research regarding the dietary contribution of agricultural biodiversity and the nutrient composition of WEP would allow to integrate them into appropriate dietary guidelines for the region and pave the way to domesticate the most interesting WEP. 

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