ZEF theme: Food and nutrition

Food and nutrition

Despite much progress in recent decades, food security and nutrition remain one of today’s key challenge. This challenge takes several forms, which are distributed differently across the world: undernourishment, i.e. an insufficient intake of dietary calories; overnutrition, i.e. the excessive intake of dietary calories; and micronutrient deficiencies, i.e. the insufficient intake of vital nutrients such as vitamins, iron, zinc and others. Referred to as the triple burden of malnutrition, these three elements can interact and are recorded typically within national populations, but also within households and even within a single individual.

ZEF has a long track record of studies on food and nutrition insecurity, their linkages, drivers and potential solutions, and participated in large international research projects such as FOODSECURE. In recent times, the prevalence of malnutrition is highest in parts of Africa and in South Asia, where much of our research has taken place, and which is closely associated with poverty. Issues of obesity and overweight though, linked to dietary choices and preferences, are increasing and burdening ever more countries.

ZEF research seeks to better understand malnutrition in specific, acute contexts and at various scales, across time, and to support actions toward ending malnutrition globally. Therefore, ZEF’s research on food and nutrition security is linked to almost all other themes research schemes, such as agriculture and land use, health, gender, markets and services. Recent ZEF research estimated the costs of ending hunger by 2030 and proposed concrete policy actions.

(Text: Nicolas Gerber; Photo: Zaneta Kubik, Benin)