The crucial role of nutrition in achieving and maintaining health is well documented and that has been the theoretical framework for different regional, national, and global policies. Given the multiplicity of nutrition’s impact on health, it should be a priority component of evidence-based public health approaches. It is well-know that malnutrition is a challenge globally faced, and that the global targets for nutrition are yet far from being met1. The urgent and maleficent nature of malnutrition relies on its double burden, described as the concurrent manifestation of both undernutrition and overweight, affects predominantly low-income and middle-income countries2. When we compare the stunting and obesity prevalence trends from south east Asian countries with global data, despite the comparable stunting prevalence progression, the growing trend of overweight in south east Asian countries is more emphasised in comparison to the international general trends.
As it was reported in the Addressing the Double Burden of Malnutrition in ASEAN report, most of ASEAN’s lower-income countries do not invest fully in actions concerning undernutrition, which eventually increases the risk of infant morbidity and mortality, while also decreasing lifelong income-earning labour force efficiency, which can be transmitted across generations4. South East Asia countries’ economic development, population growth, and globalization were some of the determinants of possibilities that “neighbour-countries” would develop different food consumption patterns, and different amounts of mean energy expended4,5. Furthermore, the evolution of population structure and the lengthening of lifespans resulted in a demographic transition where countries face increasing proportions of older people, with age also being a risk factor for many non-communicable diseases 5.
This scenario associated with the COVID-19 pandemic presents unprecedented and global challenges, where joint-actions of multidisciplinary professionals, researchers and policy makers is needed. This can allow science to be translated into clear data, successfully communicated messages, and evidence-based policies. Typically, policies that address different forms of malnutrition are overviewed and thought by separate programmes and political structures. What evidence has been defending when it comes to fighting the double-burden of malnutrition is double-duty actions. Double-duty actions aim to tackle both undernutrition and problems of overweight, obesity, and for example, Type-2 Diabetes6.
With the aforementioned points in mind, the first part of this project would be to access specific nutrition related needs in ASEAN countries. To do so, it would be our aim to not only develop peer-reviewed papers in collaboration with University of Cambridge colleagues, but also to map relevant findings in Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei with a focus on Type-2 Diabetes and COVID-19 prevention.
After this synthesis of evidence, this project aims to build an educational model to measure changes to knowledge, attitudes, and practices (known as the KAP approach) for practitioners and public representatives in these countries. Our proximity with different professionals and academic partners from these countries would allow this to be presented for the first time during the NNEdPro Regional Network Meeting (June 2021) to collect feedback from multiple countries’ representatives.
To properly evaluate the educational model developed, we would need to determine its impact at regional level through both quantitative and qualitative methods. The quantitative evaluation of impact would be done using an online blended format assessment. The qualitative evaluation would be done through the data collection from focus groups of our sample of practitioners and public representatives. Given that knowledge can only reach its main purpose once it is appropriately communicated, to share and debate our findings, we would have the opportunity to write peer-reviewed publications. In addition, we would organise a policy round table event in line with our November 2021 Regional Network Meeting.
1. Assembly, U. G. (2016). Implementation of the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016–2025).
2. Popkin, B. M., Corvalan, C., & Grummer-Strawn, L. M. (2020). Dynamics of the double burden of malnutrition and the changing nutrition reality. The Lancet, 395(10217), 65-74.
3. UNICEF/WHO/The World Bank Group. (2020). UNICEF/WHO/The World Bank Group joint child malnutrition estimates: levels and trends in child malnutrition: key findings of the 2020 edition. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/jme-2020-edition
4. Vusizihlobo, N., Mbuya. , Sutayu, O., & Clarissa, D. (2019). Addressing the Double Burden of Malnutrition in ASEAN. Retrieved from Bangkok: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/33142
5. Shrimpton, R., & Rokx, C. (2012). The double burden of malnutrition: a review of global evidence. Health, Nutrition and Population (HNP) discussion paper. Retrieved from Washington, D.C.: https://documents.worldbank.org/en/publication/documents-reports/documentdetail/905651468339879888/the-double-burden-of-malnutrition-a-review-of-global-evidence
6. Development Initiatives. (2020). 2020 Global Nutrition Report: Action on equity to end malnutrition. Retrieved from Bristol, UK: https://globalnutritionreport.org/reports/2020-global-nutrition-report/