"The Double Burden of Malnutrition: Underlying Drivers in Food Systems"
According to the 2018 Global Nutrition Report, 88% of countries around the world experience more than one form of malnutrition–most often a high prevalence of both anemia and obesity. We are not making any progress on addressing obesity globally, and progress on addressing childhood stunting has been slow despite widespread attention and programming. Evidence continues to emerge that unhealthy food systems are responsible for much of this malnutrition, but the impact of non-nutritional exposures originating from food systems has received little attention to date. The overall aim of this talk is to introduce the audience to two classes of environmental pollutants with strong links to the food system–(1) pesticides and (2) air pollution–and the scientific evidence linking these exposures to both ends of the malnutrition spectrum.
Dr. Lindsay Jaacks, Assistant Professor of Global Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, will begin by reviewing the definition and global burden of malnutrition. She will then present a broad framework for integrating research on nutritional and non-nutritional exposures such as environmental pollutants in the food system, and walk through two in-depth examples using recent data from her research on the effects of pesticides and air pollution on stunting, obesity, and nutrition-related chronic diseases, particularly diabetes and hypertension. The presentation will end with a discussion of ongoing interventions relating to testing these hypotheses, and examples of potential triple-duty actions in global nutrition to address the so-called “global syndemic” of obesity, undernutrition, and climate change.
Dr. Lindsay Jaacks is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a Visiting Professor at the Public Health Foundation of India. She received a BS in Biological and Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University and a PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology from The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The overarching goal of Dr. Jaacks’s research program is to advance our understanding of the relationship between food systems and obesity and diabetes through the lens of both nutrition and environmental health. Projects include both observational and intervention studies using quantitative and qualitative approaches, and, importantly, span the biochemical-population spectrum. Given that two-thirds of adults with diabetes currently live in low- or middle-income countries and the largest increases in diabetes prevalence over the next 25 years are predicted to occur in these countries, her research is primarily focused on these settings, especially South Asia. At the Harvard Chan School, Dr. Jaacks teaches “Global Noncommunicable Diseases” in the fall, and in the winter session, she teaches a field-based course on food and health systems, which has been in India these past 2 years, but will be in Nepal this upcoming year (2020). Outside of academia, while a vegetarian dieter, Dr. Jaacks is an omnivorous reader, a bike commuter, and has spotted over 450 bird species in North America.