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Transforming nutrition science for better health

Changing global patterns of malnutrition are having enormous health and economic consequences – but nutrition research isn't keeping up. New ideas and voices are urgently needed.

This report looks at the key themes from an international workshop co-hosted by Wellcome and the World Health Organization, that aimed to stimulate new collaborative nutrition research using cutting-edge techniques and technologies.

What’s inside? 

  • An overview of workshop discussions
  • Details on how we designed the meeting to stimulate conversations
  • Themes for the global community to take forward, including key nutrition research priorities and common barriers to nutrition science
  • Suggested actions for funders aiming to transform nutrition science

Who is this for? 

  • Scientific researchers
  • UK and international funders
  • Policy and practice agencies

Key findings

  • There is a need and a clear appetite for new thinking and new approaches in nutrition science.
  • Nutrition science can benefit greatly by bringing disciplines together: basic biology with population health, and undernutrition with overnutrition.
  • Nutrition science needs to engage with cutting-edge practices beyond the field of nutrition, including harnessing the potential of big data.
  • Several research themes emerged:
    • Definition: We need to be better at defining nutritional health. At the moment we use indirect methods to measure nutrition and rely on historical standards.
    • Measurement: New technology should be used to think of new ways to measure nutrition more directly.
    • Data and machine learning: Learning from the Big Data field could offer new solutions to nutritional challenges.
    • Study design: A major theme was the need to incorporate biological understanding into nutrition studies
    • Implementation: How do we best implement strategies to improve nutrition?
    • Social context: To what extent does our social setting influence the nutrition value of our diets?

Get in touch

If you have ideas on how to tackle the current barriers to nutrition science, particularly the actions that funders like Wellcome could take, please contact Lindsay Keir and Sophie Hawkesworth at l.keir@wellcome.ac.uk.

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