While nutritional status has improved worldwide over the past fifty years, new nutrition-related problems have also emerged A global nutrition transition has and is occurring on a continuum. While problems of under-consumption and poor nutritional status continue to exist, increasingly problems of diet/chronic diseases are emerging as significant public health issues globally. A demographic shift has resulted in increased life expectancy in many countries, and in some countries, this means an older population.
Closely tied with this change in age structure is an epidemiological shift, which has decreased communicable diseases and increased chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension.
AdvertisementWith the increase in availability of more high-fat and sugar-laden foods there is a surge of nutrition-related chronic diseases around the world. At the same time that diets have changed, physical activity has decreased. The highest rates of overweight and obesity are now often found in low-income groups. Many populations have been left in the midst of an obesity crisis that exists with food insecurity and under-nutrition. Chronic diseases can no longer be labeled as 'diseases of affluence.'
Unfortunately, the message that the global nutrition profile is changing hasn't reached policy makers, and they need to be aware that it is occurring.
Deficiencies of micronutrients, such as iron, iodine, zinc and vitamin A, contribute to 'hidden hunger' and while the statistics on micronutrient status for women in developing countries are scarce. It is clear that a large percentage of women from developing countries suffer negative health and nutrition consequences.
The real challenge will be to identify new ways of dealing with the new nutrition realities of diet-related chronic diseases while also addressing under-nutrition, food insecurity and hunger.