Food systems and nutrition: Emerging evidence and research opportunities
This review (PDF) by Feed the Future, USAID and Tufts University identified opportunities for action that could contribute to systemic change that improves diet quality, particularly for nutritionally vulnerable people in low income settings. The review summarizes research findings and presents future research opportunities around the production of nutrient-dense foods, agriculture-nutrition linkages at population scale, food processing, food safety, and food loss and waste, as well as several cross-cutting issues that have implications across the food system. Since 2008, the primary focus of agriculture-nutrition research has been how a household’s production may affect the nutrition of women and children. Key findings of this work concern the generally positive value of e.g. productivity and production diversity, importance of gender-roles and food safety, technology adoption and lining agricultural and market intervetion. At a more macro level, research has provided insights into the role of climate shock and seasonality on birth outcomes and child growth and smooting diet quality and nutrition outomes. There is also realization on the importance of rural markets and infrastructure to the delivery of nutritious commodities. Emerging priority issues requiring deeper research-based understanding include: 1) pro-resilience interventions in the food system that protect nutrition; 2) innovations and scale-up productivity-enhancing technologies for nutrient-dense foods; 3) agriculture-based interventions for nutritional status of adolescent girls; 4) drivers of consumption choice; 5) cost-effectiveness of approaches for changing behaviors in food systems; 6) food safety threats; 7) WASH elements with impact on nutrition. Underlying all such research streams has been important emphases on the validation of appropriate metrics, whether in the realm of agricultural production, food markets, or nutrition and health, to better understand problems and promote solutions focused on determining the relative cost-effectiveness of multisector versus single-sector approaches, and on meeting appropriate thresholds of empirical evidence to underpin informed policy and program designs.