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Let’s get it right this time: preparing for food systems in the wake of covid-19.

A child with his mother from Village Khangrah, Muzuffragrah District, Punjab in Pakistan

BY Mr. Jong-Jin Kim

1.9 billion people in Asia and the Pacific cannot afford a healthy diet.

I'm struck by the painful irony of that statistic. The humanity of it.

Asia and the Pacific is a dynamic and prosperous region. How is it possible that nearly two billion people experience such food insecurity?

This figure is just one of the findings of the latest annual report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition , released this year on 20 January. The report is co-published every year by the Food and Agriculture Organization ( FAO ), along with UNICEF , the World Food Programme ( WFP ), and the World Health Organization ( WHO ).

Asian and Pacific countries have been consistently the fastest-growing economies over the last two decades. Many of them have become agricultural and industrial powerhouses, pulled millions of people out of poverty and transitioned to lower-middle, middle and, in some cases, even to higher-income status. My home country, the Republic of Korea, is an example of one of the earliest "Asian Tigers" that set this trend.

Yet, since 2015, which marked the beginning of the Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs ), the incidence of malnourishment in the region has remained stubbornly high.

Just over half of the world's 690 million malnourished people --- or 350.6 million people --- are in Asia and the Pacific. An estimated 74.5 million children under five years of age in the region are stunted and 31.5 million are wasted. Meanwhile, counterintuitively, childhood obesity is gradually rising.

While we've been fighting all of these trends, we now face a new battle to overcome the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the health and livelihoods it has taken away and continues to threaten. The pandemic could have already resulted in an additional 140 million people being forced into extreme poverty and a doubling of the number of people facing acute food insecurity to 265 million worldwide.

We are off track in the fight against hunger. Not only that, we are close to losing gains made so far on our way to the SDGs, particularly SDGs 1 (poverty), 2 (hunger) and 10 (inequalities), unless we take drastic redemptive actions.

Complex business

There is enough food to feed everyone on Earth. And indeed, there is enough food in Asia and the Pacific to feed everyone in that region.

The problem arises in how that food is made available to people. Food must be grown, harvested, packaged, shipped, stored, distributed and sold. Much of this has to happen on deadline before the food goes bad. All the infrastructure and work that makes this possible is called the "food system."

The burdens of malnutrition in the region are the result of our inability to direct our food systems to provide sufficient nutrients to people, especially to mothers and children.

Instead, these food systems are often providing "cheap calories," foods that are inexpensive but not nutritious. Making the situation worse is the rapid urbanization of the region and the growth in consumption of processed and convenience foods --- ironically, fueled by the prosperity in the region. It becomes necessary, therefore, for healthy diets to be seen as a priority both on the supply (production) side and on the demand (consumption) side.

The report's finding that healthy diets are unaffordable to most in Asia and the Pacific is further jarring given that the largest global producers of some key commodities --- rice, pulses, oilseeds, millets, sugar, milk, fruits and vegetables, fish, eggs --- are all from this region. Yet the majority of people in Asia and the Pacific are unable to afford these nutritious foods.

A transformation of food systems

A sustainable and nutrition-sensitive food system is essential to produce diverse and nutritious foods for healthy diets. While full-fledged transformation will take time and investment, some of the solutions are simple and can be easily implemented by countries.

  • Improved efficiencies such as reducing food losses and waste, particularly of perishables, can reduce the costs of essential foods and make them more affordable.
  • Improving food safety in fresh and street food markets can boost access to hygienic and healthy diets. The private sector can be regulated or recruited to reduce fat, salt and sugar in foods, especially those sold to young consumers to curb obesity and overweight.

COVID-19 has shocked and wounded the food system. We have the opportunity to build back healthier even as we support those who have borne the brunt. But as we do so, let's be sure to get it right this time.

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How to Write a Report in Nutrition: Step-by-Step Guide to Successful Paper Writing

Nutrition is a popular topic for college reports. Everybody eats food and has to choose between healthy and unhealthy meals. Nutrition deals not only with eating habits but also with health problems and benefits connected with food preferences. Students often find difficulty in the selection of a topic that can intrigue the target audience. There are too many articles and investigations devoted to nutrition. They serve as a perfect assistant for report writing.

Successful papers start with proper planning and creation of an outline. An outline includes a structure of the report, a time frame, links to the sources (page numbers), and ideas for further research. This article provides a detailed manual for everyone who needs to write an excellent report in nutrition.

Essay vs. Report: What’s the Difference?

There is so much academic homework that a student might get confused. A student should remember that the task is to write a report but not an essay. There is a huge difference between these two types of academic assignments.

An essay has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. It can be formal and semi-formal. Tutors expect to see students’ ability to express themselves. Its goal is to show anauthor’s point of view. Students might have to persuade, narrate, explain, compare or tell the reason for the problem in essays. The task depends on the essay type and college requirements.

A report demands data collection, then its analysis, and systematizing. Its purpose is to inform the target audience about the key problem and its solution. A report aims at convincing someone in something or just providing the information. Besides the 3 basic components (an introduction, a body, and a conclusion), a report requires sections, headings, and subheadings. Such a structure lets a reader look through the document and find the needed information quickly. Each report ends with an author’s suggestions or offers concerning the solution of the represented problem.

A Report in Nutrition: Guideline Telling Where to Start and How to Finish

Inexperienced students should have a manual that might help to write an excellent report. The instruction below can be a perfect assistant in this college task.

Study the Requirements

First of all, it is necessary to study the college requirements. A person can find out whether the report should persuade or just inform the target audience about something. It is very essential to make sure that a student understands what to do. It will also say who the target audience is. Moreover, there will be details about the formatting and structure. If a student has some questions, it will be better to ask them as soon as possible. Misunderstanding never brings luck.

Try a quicker way

Select a Worthy Topic

A person feels more engaged when writing about the topic he or she is interested in. That is why it is very important to be picky. These are 10 sample topics that might be captivating and absorbing.

Sometimes a student cannot select the topic. In that case, a person has to look for something catchy to get inspiration and be able to finish the paper on time. The more useful the paper for the writer is, the more chances a person has to present a valuable report. The best variant is to discuss the topic selection with the tutor. It is necessary to get the boss’s approval before starting writing a report.

Specify the Problem in the Topic

The topic must be neither too wide nor too narrow. The first one will demand much writing and it will lead to a poorly-organized report. Dealing with the second type, a student might face difficulty in finding enough data for the report to fit the college requirements. Experts recommend finding the golden mean. Bad variant: Weight Loss (too wide) Bad variant: Plant-based Diets Prevent Obesity and Improve Human Health Condition (too narrow) Good variant: Vegetarian Diets as the Best Genetical Variant for Weight Loss First, students should make sure that there is enough information for the report. Then they can specify the topic and present it to the professor.

A Report in Nutrition: What Literature to Choose to Write a Good Paper

It is impossible to write a report without trustable literature. There are three degrees of value.

Professional agencies recommend selecting several sources for a perfect report. Each page of the paper must link to one or two reliable sources. One can find them in the library and online. A person must be sure that the chosen source is reputable. Librarians can indicate the trustable ones. In the case of online literature, one should pay attention to details and check the data before applying it. Scholarly sources fit this purpose best of all. A researcher should look for the data using Lexis Nexis or Google Scholar. These search engines present authoritative publications, websites of the government, works of reputable scientists, etc.

Experts also recommend paying attention to the sources other writers have used to write their articles. For example, a student writes about the benefits of olive oil. A researcher will have to study literature to support the report with facts and statistics. One can find them in scientific articles. Moreover, almost every scientific article gives a list of used literature in the end so that a reader can check the validity of the information. A report-writer can investigate these sources to learn more about the efficiency of the oil. List of reputable online sources one can use to write a report in nutrition:

A person has to be careful when selecting an online source. Today everybody can write an article and publish it. The website must be official and there must be a list of literature a researcher has used in the work.

A Report in Nutrition: Structure One Should Follow to Make It Logical

First of all, a tutor pays attention to the structure of the paper. One of the most important elements is the table of contents. It reflects the ideas and information a student has given in the paper. Consequently, a student is to be aware of the structure to become a true professional.

An outline is a visualization of the general look of the report. It helps to avoid confusion. One should just research and make notes on margins of the section (page, author, title, citation) to be able to use them later. Having enough materials, a writer can identify the core idea of the paper and create a thesis statement that needs catchy facts leading to research. An outline allows a writer to understand how to connect sections of the paper logically and fill in the data gaps if there are any.

It comes after the title page to mirror the value of the report. It hardly exceeds 150 words and conveys the message of the paper.

Table of Contents

The main goal of the report is to inform about the problem or discovery in nutrition. A person reads it to get some useful information quickly. That is why there must be a table of contents that will navigate the reader to the required section. It reminds the one of a textbook or a manual. Nobody will read the whole book or instruction just to find out something. A person will surely scan the table of contents to find out the number of the page whether the required data is.

Introduction Part

This part is short (less than 10% of the whole paper). It provides a brief overview of the topic problem and aims at attracting the reader’s attention by facts, statistics, provocative questions, or citations. It usually ends with a thesis statement.

Olive oil is an eco-product that can help to treat cancer, skin problems, and improve digestion and metabolism. Nevertheless, it is fatty and can lead to obesity and other health problems. How to make good use of it?

NOTE! It is better to write the abstract and the introduction after the paper is ready. A student will be able to see the true value of the report and to reflect it in these parts.

There are two types of reports. The first one deals with case studies. The second type just presents the systematized analysis of the information. The body of the case study might look the following way:

If it is an average report of the problem, the body should include sections with subsections. It must be logical. The number of sections will depend on the volume of the report and the information a student wants to present. It might also have the section devoted to the applied research methods, tests, and examinations.

A student comments on the value of the report and links it to the sources in this part. There can be also a comparison of the author’s viewpoint and other researchers’ ideas concerning the existing problem or case.

This part summarizes the information and restates it giving suggestions for improvement and ideas for further research. It must not give new details because it will create the impression of vagueness and incompleteness.

2 liters of water daily helps to stay hydrated but the quality of water must meet the requirements. Low-mineral and purified water results in the insufficiency of calcium, especially in children whose growth is more rapid.

Bibliography

This is ABC enumeration of the used literature. Due to that, a person can avoid accusations in plagiarism. The number of investigated sources reflects the deepness of the research and efforts of the students to create a solid report. Professors often pay attention to this part when evaluating the worth of the report.

Sometimes students have videos, audio files, pictures, diagrams, and tables that they cannot present within the paper. Consequently, they can add these materials to the appendix section and enumerate them. Later they can just mention the numbered material using footnotes or brackets.

Other Things to Consider before Handing in a Report in Nutrition

Students write academic papers to receive the highest grades. Some of them need to write a report to get a job. Besides a good analysis of the problem, it is important to regard accuracy and avoid grammar mistakes.

Each college has some requirements. In case there are no concrete rules, one should follow general demands that include font 12, type Times New Roman or Arial, double-spacing, and 2.5cm margins from all sides.

Proofreading

It is better never to check the paper when being tired. One should finish the report, have some rest and only then read the paper once again. A person will have a chance to see new mistakes. The best variant is to find an expert or at least an experienced student who has already succeeded in report writing.

A person should wake up and slowly read the paper with a fresh mind. Experts suggest pretending to be a reader and evaluate the paper. One more option is to ask friends to read it and check if they have understood the message.

Hope that these tips were of help to you.

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Published on Voices

How nutrition can protect people’s health during covid-19, muhammad ali pate, martien van nieuwkoop, this page in:.

A Marketplace in Kenya in April, 2020. Photo: © Sambrian Mbaabu/World Bank

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” The notion that nutritious and safe diets support good health has been around at least since antiquity, as this quote, often misattributed to Hippocrates , attests. What to eat – and not to eat – regularly grabs news headlines, as consumers try to balance scientific advice and marketing trends with their own culinary traditions, pocketbooks, and local food options.

Now, with so many people falling ill from the coronavirus (COVID-19), unhealthy diets are contributing to pre-existing conditions that put them more at risk.   And in much of the world, illness also means loss of income. Hence the pandemic has raised the stakes for consumers, producers and policy makers worldwide. What would it take to get healthy food right? Answers to this question are as pressing and relevant as ever.

With so many people falling ill from the coronavirus (COVID-19), unhealthy diets are contributing to pre-existing conditions that put them more at risk.

There are uncertainties around what constitutes healthy food and appropriate policy interventions. But a growing body of evidence and analysis points towards actions that may save lives – and at the very least improve the well-being of billions.  

The quality of diets is essential to health

Diets are crucial to the health status of people around the world. Food is not a peripheral concern: according to the 2017 Global Burden of Disease report, metabolic risks accounted for most of the top five risks of disability and death . More than 2 billion people are overweight or obese , with over 70% of them in low- and middle-income countries . Unsafe food caused an estimated 600 million illnesses and 420,000 premature deaths in 2010, according to the World Health Organization, undermining people’s health and nutritional security. And emerging evidence suggests that people with pre-existing, diet-related conditions such as severe obesity , heart disease, and diabetes, are suffering more serious consequences from COVID-19, including more severe illness and a greater need for intensive health care, such as respirators.

Malnutrition also severely weakens people’s immune systems, increasing people’s chances of getting ill, staying ill, and dying because of illness. Iron, iodine, folate, vitamin A, and zinc deficiencies are the most widespread, with over 2 billion people affected worldwide. This “hidden hunger” not only increases the risk of morbidity and mortality, but also contributes to poor growth, intellectual impairment, and perinatal complications. This lowers countries’ human capital and development prospects.

Expect food and nutrition insecurity to rise

Global inequity on food and nutrition is about to get much worse. The World Food Program has warned of a potential doubling of acute food insecurity in low- and middle-income countries this year due to income and remittance losses. Experience from 2008 also points to an impending nutrition crisis. Studies in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Mauritania assessed the impact of the 2008 global food price crisis , suggesting it increased acute malnutrition by 50% among poor children. Other studies found evidence of a significant rise in stunting among both urban and rural children.

COVID-19 puts diets at risk through disrupted health and nutrition services, job and income losses, disruptions in local food supply chains, and as a direct result of infections among poor and vulnerable people.  At the same time, there is evidence that the sale of snacks and non-perishable foods is growing rapidly in the crisis, at the expense of fresh foods, such as vegetables and fruits, and high protein foods, such as legumes, fish and meat. Junk food manufacturers reportedly see the crisis as an opportunity to expand their market share.

COVID-19 puts diets at risk through disrupted health and nutrition services, job and income losses, disruptions in local food supply chains, and as a direct result of infections among poor and vulnerable people.

How can we improve access to healthy food when people need it most?  And what can we do to limit the harm caused by unhealthy diets? We propose three areas for immediate and medium-term action.

1. Secure food at affordable prices for poor communities

The first area of action is to adopt policies that secure food at affordable prices for the most vulnerable. Remembering lessons from the past, international organizations including the FAO, IFAD, World Bank and World Food Programme have joined with agriculture ministers from countries of the G20, ASEAN, African Union, and Latin America and the Caribbean and are calling on exporting countries to avoid trade disruptions and keep food and agricultural inputs flowing across borders.

Attention to international trade must be complemented by steps to keep domestic food production, processing, and marketing functional and safe , despite social distancing and movement restrictions. And social safety net programs are essential to provide resources for families who have lost the ability to buy food.

2. Ensure better nutrition

The second area is no less important: countries must go beyond high-calorie staples and ensure better nutrition to boost people’s resilience and lower their risks from pre-existing, diet-related conditions and foodborne illnesses.  On the agricultural side, this may take many forms, from promoting kitchen gardens, growing bio-fortified crops, and diversifying food produced for domestic consumption, to improving cold chains for more perishable nutritious food, upgrading fresh food markets, and investing in food safety .

Stepping up nutrition advice, promoting breast-feeding, and fighting misinformation around COVID-19 transmission will help preserve the role of nutritious food as an ally against illness.

On the health side, stepping up nutrition advice (delivered, for example, by mobile phone twinned with cash transfers, or through community workers), promoting breast-feeding, and fighting misinformation around COVID-19 transmission will help preserve the role of nutritious food as an ally against illness, even in hard times. In designing interventions, there is much we can learn from the findings of the South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (SAFANSI) . Another key resource is the Optima Nutrition tool , developed in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help improve the efficiency of nutrition spending and better reach vulnerable groups such as women and children.

3. Realign public spending for better health and nutrition

The third area that’s ripe for action is realigning public spending to match health and nutrition objectives. Growing food and eating meals may be largely private activities, but they are shaped in countless ways by public policies and by incentives  that reach a half trillion dollars a year in 53 countries reviewed by the OECD . Data is hard to come by, but most price support schemes are thought to go to a limited number of crops that form the basic ingredients of carbohydrate-rich, nutrition-poor packaged foods.

Fruit and vegetables, on the other hand, remain prohibitively expensive in many countries. Public support for cereals and sugar, combined with private marketing and clever packaging, is encouraging a transition to unhealthy diets in low and middle-income countries. For example, in Nepal, data shows that unhealthy snack food and beverage products comprise nearly 25% of calorie-intake among 1- to 2-year-old children.  

Food safety is imperative – foodborne disease in low- and middle-income countries is estimated to cost $110 billion in lost productivity and medical expenses each year.  It’s also urgent to tackle obesity. A new World Bank study on the health and economic consequences of the obesity epidemic encourages governments to increase taxation on unhealthy foods and regulate their marketing and advertising. Learning from successful examples such as Chile and Mexico, it also urges governments to subsidize healthier foods and mandate adequate labelling on processed foods. Over 47 countries are already experimenting with these approaches.

Being smarter about public resources, including by deploying taxes on items like sweetened beverages, would help generate resources at a time when budgets are constrained and governments are ramping up social safety net programs. This would create more fiscal space for health and nutrition interventions that help fight infectious diseases like COVID-19, while building resilience for future generations.

The World Bank Group and COVID-19

Muhammad Ali Pate

Global Director, Health, Nutrition and Population | Director, Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents (GFF)

Martien van Nieuwkoop

Global Director, Agriculture and Food Global Practice, World Bank

Dear Authors, Thanks for the nice and thought provoking insights. Your approach to the solution is very comprehensive and three dimensional i.e. Food Security, Better Nutrition and the contingent public spending for better health and nutrition.

I would like to add the point of view to these thought might be helpful for the research field and future realignment of the joint efforts to improve the culture of better health and nutrition.

1. This is true that better health is very much linked with the better food irrespective of rich and poor communities, because the healthier food provides not only energies living beings but also strengthen their immunization to defend themselves from the adverse effects of the natural climates as well as to from the impact of disease. 2. The public health professional have to join hands and to work for improving the eating habits among the communities; Because in many parts of the world the eating habits of the communities are not allowing themselves to choose the better and heathier food. 3. There is a wrong perception among the food consumers that the healthy food is expensive, this perception needs to prove wrong. 4. The Health professional and the Social Scientist should work in promoting the culture of self and food hygiene. 5. The food and eatables manufactures and the FMCG companies which are manufacturing and producing the eatables are now a days innovating there product line by food fortification and adding more nutrients to their products; this also increase the cost of the product and often goes beyond the reach of the common customer. The governments should also subsidies these health sectors related specials areas to ensure the delivery of healthier eatables products to the consumers having low income level.

thank you for giving us this opportunity to share our opinions. we are in great crisis I wish being here will bring some solutions to fight against this challenges.thank you

Thank you Muhammad and Martien for this article. Indeed the food and nutrition insecurity may rise, particularly for household who rely on informal source of income and the urban poor. One way the governments can protect these vulnerable populations is to support production and then support and regulate the sell of farm produce to ensure a steady supply to the consumers who rely on purchase. This will help protect both the farmers and consumers from the "middle men" who buy food from farmers at very low prices but sell to consumers at very high prices that discourage consumption of certain foods, especially fruits and vegetables.

Excellent and useful information is drawn from the article.

Thanks for making us aware of the major causes of malnutrition. Please advice whether extruded maize flour, fortified with essential vitamins and minerals could substitute for fresh veges and fruits when not available . This to considering "hidden hunger" Thank you Kind regards

To ensure better nutrition...practice high levels of hygiene when handling food stuff and cooking food to the right temperature. Will boost the immunity of the people living in middle income countries and developing countries e.g Zambia

There are women and children setteled in reomote areas, suffering from the disaster of poverty ; with so many illness, unhiginic condation in; Afghanistan requestin, you to do some thing in order to change their life situation. Thans

Can I be receiving email alerts on similar articles from the world bank. I'm a food upcycling expert with TOP Kenya

Healthy eating for children

What children eat and drink during their early years can affect their health for many years to come. General eating habits are formed in the first few years of life, so it is important to encourage your children to eat nutritious food.

A healthy balanced diet for children

Children need a healthy balanced diet containing foods from each food group so they get a wide range of nutrients to help them stay healthy.

Children’s appetites vary depending on age, growth spurts, and how much activity they have done so it's important to provide appropriately sized portions.

Start small and if a child wants more, then offer it to them.  

Starchy foods

Starchy foods , such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta are a good source of energy, which is particularly important for children as they are very active.

They also contain fibre and essential vitamins and minerals, which are needed for growth and development.

Children should have a wide variety of foods from this food group and they should be offered at each meal time.

When offering children these foods, remember:

Fruit and vegetables

You should encourage your child to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

They should eat a variety of fruit and vegetables as this will make sure they get the full range of vitamins and minerals.

A child-sized portion is roughly half of an adult portion or the amount that would fit in the palm of their hand.

Children should be encouraged to gradually increase the portion size to that recommended for adults.

Protein providers

Children need protein and iron to grow and develop. Try to give your child one or two portions from this group daily.

Beans, pulses and lentils are good alternatives to meat, are low in fat and high in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Try adding these to dishes to add colour, flavour and texture such as casseroles, chilli or pasta sauces.

Nuts also contain protein, but whole nuts, including peanuts, shouldn't be given to children under five years of age in case they choke.

It's recommended that children eat two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish, for example, salmon, sardines, mackerel or trout.

It's recommended that boys have no more than four portions of oily fish a week, and girls no more than two portions a week because oily fish can contain low level of pollutants that can build up in the body.

The health benefits of eating oily fish are greater than the risks, so do try and encourage children to eat fish regularly.

Eggs are a convenient alternative to meat and are extremely versatile. They can be scrambled, boiled, poached or made into an omelette.  

Meat is a good source of protein, vitamin B12 and iron. A diet rich in iron will help prevent iron deficiency anaemia.

Processed meat (such as sausages, bacon, cured meat and reformed meat products) and chicken products are often a real favourite with children. They should be limited, as they are high in fat and salt.

Dairy and alternatives

Dairy and alternatives  are important during childhood as they are a good source of calcium, vitamins A and D, protein and fat.

Calcium is needed to help children build strong bones and for nerve and muscle function.

Vitamin D is needed to help absorb calcium and therefore plays an important part in strengthening bones.

Babies and children under five

Breast milk is the best drink for babies for the first year and beyond. The only alternative to breast milk in the first six months is infant formula.

Choose an infant formula based on cow's milk unless you have been advised differently by your health professional.

You should continue to give your baby breast milk or formula milk until he or she is at least a year old.

Cow’s milk should not be given as a drink until a baby is a year old, as it doesn't contain the right balance of nutrients to meet your baby’s needs.

Full-fat cow's milk can be used in small amounts for cooking in foods such as cheese sauce and custard from six months.

Babies under one year old should not be given condensed milk, evaporated milk, dried milk, or any other type of drinks often known as milks, such as rice, oat or almond drinks.

Children should drink full-fat milk until they are at least two years old because they may not get the calories or essential vitamins they need from lower-fat milks.

After the age of two, children can gradually move to semi-skimmed milk as a main drink as long as they are eating a varied and balanced diet and growing well.

Don't give skimmed or one per cent fat milk to children as a main drink until they're at least five years old, because neither of these contains enough vitamin A and skimmed milk doesn't contain enough calories.

Children between the ages of one and three need to have around 350mg of calcium a day. About 300ml milk (just over half a pint) would provide this.

Goat's and sheep's milk

Like cow's milk, goat's and sheep's milk are not suitable as drinks for babies under a year old because they don't contain the right balance of nutrients.

Providing they are pasteurised, ordinary full-fat goat and sheep milk can be used as drinks once a baby is a year old. They can be used for cooking in foods such as cheese sauce and custard from the age of six months.

The importance of iron

Iron is essential for your child’s health and can be found in animal sources (meat and fish) and plant sources (wholegrain cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, pulses and dried fruits).

The body absorb iron from meat and fish more easily than from vegetables. However, if your child does not eat meat or fish they can still get enough iron from foods such as fortified breakfast cereals, pulses and dark green leafy vegetables.

It is important to have some foods or drinks containing vitamin C when eating iron rich vegetable sources as this helps with the absorption of iron.

If young children fill up on milk, they may eat less food due to feeling full. This could make it difficult for them to get the calories and nutrients they need from a balanced diet.

This might lead to iron deficiency anaemia which can affect their physical and mental development.

Snacks and drinks

When choosing snacks for children, you can make healthier choices by checking nutritional labels .

Green choices

The best between-meal snacks and drinks are those that are sugar-free.

Tooth-friendly drinks and snacks to offer between meals include:

Amber choices

These foods are nutritious but still contain some sugar, fat or salt.

They are best taken at meals (when they are less damaging to teeth) and should not be taken too often as snacks between meals.

Choose low-fat, low-sugar, low-salt varieties where possible.

These include:

Red choices

These are the least healthy choices.

Most are high in sugar and may also be high in fat or salt or both.

If eaten, they are best taken at the end of a meal (when they are less damaging to teeth) and not between meals.

These should only be given occasionally and include snack foods such as:

If your child does eat these sorts of foods:

Milk and water are the best drinks to offer.

Limit drinks such as fruit juice or squash to mealtimes and if possible encourage your child to drink water or milk at mealtimes and in between.

There’s no need to add salt to your child’s food.

The maximum amount of salt your child should have depends on their age.

As a guide:

If you’re buying processed foods, even those aimed at children, remember to check the information given on the labels to choose those with less salt.

Try replacing salt with pepper, herbs and spices to add flavour to your favourite dishes.

Eating too much sugar can contribute to weight gain and tooth decay, so it's important to avoid giving your child too much sugar.

The maximum recommended sugar intake for children is:

There is no guideline limit for children under four years of age, but it is recommended to avoid sugar sweetened drinks and food with sugar added to it.

Fussy eaters

Most children go through phases where they stop eating foods that they used to eat or reduce the variety of foods that they would have eaten.

For a lot of parents this can be a very worrying time.

Children are quite resilient and will not harm themselves if they don’t eat enough for a few days.

If the problem continues and your child’s weight and growth are affected, ask your doctor to refer you to a paediatric dietitian for further advice.

Some practical tips for parents dealing with fussy eaters are:

New tastes or textures may need to be offered several times, for example 16 or 17 times before your child will take them, so don’t give up too soon.

Healthy weight

Keep an eye on your child’s weight.

If you feel your child is overweight and you want to talk to someone about this, make an appointment with your school nurse or doctor.

Vegetarian diet for children

Vegetarian or vegan diets can be healthy, providing that a wide variety of foods are eaten.

When meat and animal products are avoided, extra care will be needed to make sure that your child gets all the protein, vitamins, iron and other minerals needed.

Children following a vegan diet should also be given supplements of vitamin B12 and riboflavin (another B vitamin).

Further advice to make sure your child is getting enough nutrients, including protein and iron, is available at:

Packed lunches

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Food systems, diets and nutrition in the wake of COVID-19

Nature Food volume  2 ,  pages 68–70 ( 2021 ) Cite this article

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The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting food and nutrition security through economic and social systems shocks, food system disruptions and gaps in coverage of essential health and nutrition services. Food systems in low- and middle-income countries must adapt and strengthen food and nutrition security in the wake of COVID-19.

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its mitigation responses (together referred to as COVID-19) are impacting lives and livelihoods at an unprecedented scale. Existing nutrition challenges, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), have been amplified by pandemic-related economic and food system crises that disproportionately affect the most vulnerable — women of reproductive age, young children, adolescents and the elderly 1 , 2 . In 2019, 690 million people were undernourished, 2 billion were food insecure and 3 billion could not afford a healthy diet 3 ; and 144 million children under-five were stunted, 47 million were wasted, 38 million were overweight and at least 340 million suffered from micronutrient deficiencies 3 . Projection estimates suggest that COVID-19 and the related economic recession could, by 2022, result in an additional 9.3 million children wasted, 2.6 million stunted and 168,000 child deaths in LMICs, in the absence of appropriate response 4 . The World Bank estimates that COVID-19 could lead to an additional 83 to 132 million undernourished adults 3 and 88 to 115 million people plunged into extreme poverty (under US$1.90 per person per day) 5 . Forty-five countries required external food aid between April and December 2020 6 and acute food insecurity stands to rise dramatically, particularly in countries currently experiencing conflict and insecurity 6 , 7 , 8 .

Food insecurity, deteriorations in diet quality, micronutrient deficiencies and other forms of malnutrition stem from fundamental, complex and dynamic changes in our food system 9 . Despite varying burdens and differential mitigation responses to SARS-CoV-2 across the globe, the impacts on national, regional and local food systems have consistently resulted in job losses, income shortfalls and food shortages. Rises in food waste have also been observed in some LMICs due to lower demand for perishables, limited transportation and storage capacities, and retail food price volatility 10 , 11 . These disruptions compound existing inequities in food access and expose the fragility of food systems due to conflict, weather extremes and pestilence 7 . Most LMICs are ill-equipped to weather the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, given their susceptibility to external shocks, limited financial resources and weak provision of public services.

Economic and social systems shocks

As a result of COVID-19, the International Labour Organization estimates that 345 million full-time jobs were lost in the third quarter of 2020 12 and the global GDP is anticipated to be 5.0–6.5% lower than predicted for 2020, while remittances are forecasted to drop in 2021 by 14% globally, triggering a recession 13 , 14 , 15 . This could impact tax revenues that fund essential public health and social security services. We expect that national and household drops in income precipitated by COVID-19 will exacerbate the vicious cycle of poverty, ill health and malnutrition in all its forms.

Food systems support the livelihoods of 1 billion people globally 16 . Lockdowns and restrictions at the onset of the pandemic led to closures of formal and informal food vending and food services, either temporarily or indefinitely, resulting in widespread job losses. Sudden reverse migration of the newly unemployed was triggered in some regions, exacerbating existing strains on local food and health systems — as observed in India 17 . Women continue to disproportionately absorb shocks from the pandemic 18 ; the greatest drop in income and labour force participation is observed among women, due to lower job security in the informal sector and greater childcare demands at home 18 , 19 . Due to fear of virus transmission, lower consumer demand for goods and services, especially nutritious foods, has also resulted in more job losses in the food sector 10 , 20 . With these dramatic job and income losses, the pandemic is expected to add to the estimated 3 billion people who could not afford a high-quality diet 3 before the crisis and exacerbate malnutrition; especially among women and young children who are the most nutritionally vulnerable 19 , 21 .

The loss or reduction in benefits from social protection programmes, such as food assistance and school meal programmes, will have severe consequences for the hard-to-reach and most vulnerable — women, children, migrants and displaced populations who are often left out of national social protection programmes 18 , 20 , 22 . According to the World Bank, in response to COVID-19, 1,414 measures were introduced, adapted or expanded within social safety-net programmes as of December 2020 in 215 countries and territories 23 . However, delays in implementation and the limited capacity to meet skyrocketing demand will inevitably fail to mitigate increased food insecurity among the poorest, at least temporarily 23 .

Food system disruptions

The pandemic has created several bottlenecks from farm to fork. Domestic supply chains consisting of micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which are largely responsible for supplying food consumed in LMICs, have seen pandemic-related effects including longer lead time (due to social distancing protocols) among distributors, reduced labour capacity, increased inspections and quarantine measures, and rising operating costs 24 . With much of the global south depending on jobs in farming and small-scale fisheries — which are often poorly paid, unstable and unprotected, and with many employing migrant and seasonal workers (a significant proportion of which are women) 19 , 22 — the shortage of labour due to COVID-19 becomes problematic during peak-season times. Processing backlogs have introduced unparalleled food loss and shifts in commodity supply 25 . Although current forecasts suggest that staple crop production will remain relatively unaffected by the pandemic (rice, wheat, maize, lentils and soybeans), the same cannot be said for high-value, labour-intensive and perishable crops such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and animal-sourced foods 10 , 25 . This situation will add to the constraints on poor households to afford a healthy diet.

Within markets, closures and restrictions on formal (SMEs) and informal food service (that is, open-air markets, mobile vendors and cross-border traders), especially in the early stages of the pandemic, created a supply shock, while the lack of purchasing power due to employment and income losses, as well as reduced demand from SMEs, created a demand shock 26 . Situational analyses across Africa and Asia point to transport challenges translating into shifts in food access, food availability and in some cases, a dramatic increase in food loss, especially for nutritious, perishable foods 10 , 27 . Actual or perceived consumer concerns about food supply further affects market-seeking behaviours, such as food hoarding and panic buying, and could have devastating long-term repercussions in terms of diet quality and malnutrition 10 , 28 , 29 . This includes increased consumption of cheap sources of calories (that is, starchy staples, processed cereals and unhealthy ultra-processed foods), reducing or eliminating more expensive and nutrient-rich foods, or reducing the number of meals, all of which can lead to very poor-quality diets, micronutrient deficiencies and rises in maternal and child undernutrition or overweight/obesity (especially when increased consumption of ultra-processed foods is combined with reduced physical activity, which may result from confinement and/or unemployment) 21 . Though there are data gaps, some evidence indicates that reductions in consumption of nutrient-rich foods has been greatest for fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat in both high-income and LMIC contexts 30 , 31 , 32 .

Gaps in essential health services

Although empirical country- and intervention-specific evidence is still unavailable, the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly created significant gaps in health programming and service delivery across the globe — including routine and essential services for reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health and nutrition 33 . At the onset of the pandemic, the demand for health facility and community health services plummeted in several countries due to virus transmission concerns, travel restrictions, and income losses 33 . Reductions in community healthcare worker visits, disrupted community screening and management of acute malnutrition, and diversion of available health workers to COVID-19-related activities, have led to lower coverage of nutrition counselling, including for breastfeeding promotion and infant and young child feeding support 3 . Drops in the provision and uptake of vitamin-A supplementation and immunization programmes, and services for the prevention and treatment of infections and severe acute malnutrition, could precipitate dramatic increases in child mortality 33 . Disruptions to imports, local production and distribution of essential preventive and therapeutic nutritional products (such as multiple micronutrient supplements and oral rehydration salts) have also been severe 34 . Lags in the availability of micronutrient premix and other essential inputs needed for staple food fortification have slowed processing times 27 . Notably, we have not captured the full extent of country or local COVID-19 responses, such as investments and innovations that might adapt and restore services. Until the data is available and interpretable, essential health and nutrition services coverage information in the wake of COVID-19 relies on fragmented narratives.

Making a difference through transformation

Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, discourse on a global food system transformation that prioritizes healthy diets and nutrition has been echoed throughout agencies and among scientists alike 35 . The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities within the food system and emphasized the need for a holistic systems approach to hasten united efforts towards our global targets and goals. The 2021 Food Systems Summit provides an opportunity to rethink food systems and design long-term planetary health reforms to build resilient communities, protect rural agrarian populations and promote sustainable supply chains and food safety.

We propose two specific and urgent recommendations (Box 1 ) to ensure that high-quality diets and nutrition are prioritized in mitigating the long-term effects of the pandemic, and any comparable future crises, through sustainable reforms. Existing inequities within food systems, especially those related to gender and otherwise marginalized populations, must be addressed through policy responses and social protection programmes to improve the affordability of healthy diets and prevent both current and intergenerational malnutrition. Leveraging and engaging with national and local governmental actors, agribusiness, donors and developmental partners, and the international community to translate these recommendations is key to their implementation 8 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 .

Box 1 Priority recommendations and actions to adapt and strengthen food systems for food and nutrition security

1. Food systems must be made more effective, inclusive, resilient and nutritious .

Support small- and medium-sized enterprises (including those led by women, Indigenous peoples, pastoralists, fishers and family farmers) with more effective government investments (for example, in agriculture, infrastructure and transport), policies and built-in procurement practices that support nutrient-rich foods sourced locally (including homestead and school gardens) and regionally.

Protect and support all food system workers (formal and informal) and their rights, from future pandemics or economic shocks through social and technological innovations (for example, flexibility of labour sourcing and timing, diversifying logistics, and employee nutrition and health programmes) and appropriate personal protective equipment. This will ensure a healthy and resilient food system and will help to improve nutrition security and employment in the case of future crises, particularly for women.

Promote shorter and more diversified food value chains, especially for nutritious, perishable foods including wild foods, animal-sourced foods and fruits and vegetables. This may result in slightly higher food prices and so governments should think of this as a worthwhile insurance against future shocks that could have irreversible effects on the youngest and most vulnerable. Also, avoid blanket export restrictions and enable safe trade corridors for nutritious foods.

Given the suspected origins of COVID-19, there is a need to strengthen international food market transparency and to monitor food movement in real-time for data-driven decision-making around food safety compliance, food supply and food prices.

Invest in national and community agriculture to promote the production and commercialization of nutrient-dense staples and non-staple nutritious foods.

Invest in national or subnational micronutrient premix facilities to promote the local production of fortified staples (making sure that strict quality controls are in place) even in situations where trade is impeded. Given the reliance on non-perishable, staple foods during COVID-19, it is imperative that these foods are appropriately fortified and food processors do not have to rely solely on imported premix.

Invest in effective behaviour change and nutrition information approaches and policies to increase the demand for nutritious foods (for example, through marketing, advertising, labelling and education).

2. The flow of nutritious foods through social protection systems must be increased .

Strengthen the design and modalities of social protection programmes to enhance their ability to stimulate demand for nutritious foods. For example, link cash transfers to behaviour change to promote consumption of nutritious foods or use vouchers for nutritious foods or cash to be used in nutritious food markets.

Ensure that social protection mechanisms are both gender-sensitive and gender-transformative by incorporating specific women’s empowerment activities at individual, household and community level and direct support to women (for example, skill transfer and business training and development, microcredit and so on). This will empower women, grow businesses and provide an additional boost to food and nutrition security.

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B. Carducci, E. C. Keats & Z. A. Bhutta

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Carducci, B., Keats, E.C., Ruel, M. et al. Food systems, diets and nutrition in the wake of COVID-19. Nat Food 2 , 68–70 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-021-00233-9

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Food safety, nutrition, and wellness during COVID-19

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This page will be updated as new information becomes available. Last update: 5.29.20 [ En español ]

As we navigate these unprecedented times, many are wondering how to safely shop , order , and prepare food to minimize transmission of the novel coronavirus. Along with important social distancing practices, this page includes some tips for when you do need to go shopping, and how to handle your food when you bring it home. While there is no published evidence of contracting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from touching food or food packaging that came into contact with droplets from an infected person (via coughing, sneezing, or even breathing), the virus causing COVID-19 can survive on surfaces and objects for a certain amount of time. [1] This is the reason that, along with staying S.M.A.R.T. (see below), we are strongly encouraged to wash our hands regularly, especially after touching frequently handled objects.

Staying S.M.A.R.T. during the COVID-19 pandemic

How to stay safe and SMART during during the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: S: Stay home if you can, especially when sick M: Mask when out A: Avoid large groups and gatherings R: Refresh indoor air T: Ten feet is better than six (to avoid exposure to droplets, we know that we need to stay six feet apart, but the further away you are, the better)

Although we do not have concrete evidence regarding specific dietary factors that can reduce risk of COVID-19, we do know that eating a healthy diet , being physically active , managing stress , and getting enough sleep are critical to keeping our immune system strong. In the face of current uncertainties, we also offer some strategies and resources to help maintain some of these practices. Do what you can, and in some cases (if you can spend some time in the kitchen or get some exercise) try to have some fun along the way! That said, the COVID-19 health crisis is creating a range of unique and individual impacts—from food access issues, income disruptions, emotional distress, and beyond. For more advice and discussion on coping during this difficult time, please see Harvard Chan’s series of  interactive online forums .   

Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Pick-Up/Delivery Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Information for food retail, restaurants, and food pick-up/delivery services

Grocery shopping.

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Takeout meals and food delivery

Delivered food in takeout containers, including rice, vegetables, and chicken

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Chopped vegetables on a cutting board for meal preparation, including acorn squash, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and kale, as well as white beans and dried farro.

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