Elza Elmira

Research themes
  • Food and nutrition
Research countries
  • Indonesia
Research projects

Title: Understanding the Role of Culture and Technological Adoption on Nutritional Transition in Indonesia

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned in 2006 that malnutrition, including under- and over-nutrition, is increasing at an alarming rate among people living in developing countries.  This condition is called “the double burden of malnutrition”, referring to the incidence of both under and over nutrition (both macro and micro) in the same population, community, household, or even individual. The WHO identified three main drivers of malnutrition: Biological, environmental, and socio-behavioral (World Health Organization, 2017). These conditions would predispose an individual to a myriad of issues in adult life, such as lower economic earnings and a higher risk of chronic diseases (Beal et al., 2018, Whiting et al., 2011). 

This is why at least three decades ago the government of Indonesia started to implement social security programs to alleviate economic shocks and food insecurity. However, the issue of malnutrition persists. In addition to that, many programs were found to be mistargeted and having low impacts such as rice for the poor and supplementary food for children and pregnant women. Moreover, many in-kind programs such as the provision of supplementary food, iron-folic acid, and vitamins have little educational components specifically aiming to alter behavior (Alatas, 2012). Currently, there are still very little efforts made to prevent overweight and obesity and to actually change behavior. 

This study aims to fill in the gaps in literature and policy. My research will look into three issues in particular: First, how the nutrition status at household and individual level is affected by change in income and expenditure. Second, I want to assess if environmental changes over the years have had an effect on the access of households and individuals to healthy food and on their nutrition status. Lastly, I would conduct an experiment in Indonesia to assess how information intervention could have an impact on healthy-eating behavior and nutritional status of households and individuals. In addition, I intend to utilize a secondary data analysis using causal inference methods in my research to generate a clear causal relationship between the variables of interest.

The research contributes to explaining how nutritional transition is influenced by different factors in developing countries, especially in Indonesia. This research will also contribute to the development of economic modelling and analysis of health-related issues. The combination of using both epidemiology and econometric tools is still rare in nutrition-related research. Lastly, this research will  contribute to development of nutrition and food security related policy in Indonesia.

Professional experience

1. 11/21 – 07/22 Clinical Research Associate, Eijkman-Oxford Clinical Research Unit – Jakarta, Indonesia

2. 03/21 – 11/21 Senior Research Associate, The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab – Jakarta, Indonesia

3. 08/19  02/21 Research officer, Family Health International 360 – Indonesia, Southeast Asia

4. 01/17 – 07/19 Researcher, The SMERU Research Institute – Jakarta, Indonesia

5. 08/16 – 01/17 Junior Researcher, The SMERU Research Institute – Jakarta, Indonesia

6. 11/15 – 03/16 Social Worker, Drake International – Canberra, Australia


1. 02/15 – 12/16 Master of Public Health. The Australian National University – Canberra, Australia.

2. 07/10 – 07/14 Bachelor of Medical Science, Mulawarman University – Samarinda, East Kalimantan, Indonesia

Funding institutions

Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst e.V. (DAAD)

Thesis title

Nutritional Transition in Indonesia – Is welfare improvement enough to better improve nutritional status among adults and children in Indonesia?

Doctoral research funded by

DAAD Doctoral Scholarship Batch 2022

Supervisors of
doctoral work

Prof. Dr. Matin Qaim

Advisor at ZEF

Dr. Bezawit Beyene Chichaibelu


Elza Elmira, Daniel Suryadarma.  2020.  Financing tertiary education in Indonesia: assessing the feasibility of an income-contingent loan system.  Higher Education, 79   : 361-375   .


Elza Elmira, Emily Banks, and Grace Joshy.  2018.  Patterns of Psychological Distress among People with and without Diabetes, and Variations according to Disability: Findings from a Large Population-Based Study.  BMJ Journal, 8   : e022767   . (Open Access)   Further Information

Additionals, Curriculum Vitae
and Downloads

Junior Researcher

Economic and Technological Change


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