The Nutrition and Global Health Program is a collaborative effort between the Department of Nutrition and the Department of Global Health and Population, which takes an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and conducting research about nutrition in a global context. The group has a particular focus on the relationship between nutrition and infectious and noncommunicable diseases, nutrition and human growth and economic development, nutrition in humanitarian crisis situations, and also the dynamic interplay between epidemiologic, nutritional, and demographic transitions around the globe.
This program is dedicated to scientific research, teaching, collaborative work, and training in nutrition and global health studies at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. We are helping to train and prepare a new generation of health professionals dedicated to innovative problem solving and evaluation approaches to global health nutrition challenges, with emphasis on concerns pertaining to low- and middle-income countries.
Malnutrition—the double burden of under-nutrition and over-nutrition—is the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, and is a major impediment to population health and human and economic development. Achieving and maintaining balanced nutrition is a central challenge for global health, involving complex interrelationships between diet and disease. Both under-nutrition and over-consumption are associated with variation in food security, dietary composition, food preparation and nutrient requirements. The effects of malnutrition, including underweight and stunting, and overweight and obesity, heighten risk for both infectious and noncommunicable diseases. Rapidly changing trends in nutrition and burden of disease demand new research strategies and the development of innovative products, processes and delivery systems.
Historically, nutrition research in low- and middle-income countries has focused primarily on under-nutrition, including hunger and food insecurity, underweight, stunting, wasting, and micronutrient deficiencies. Progress has been made on this front, with health indicators such as child mortality decreasing globally; however, more research is needed to determine the lifelong effects of under-nutrition and dietary quality in childhood on human development throughout the life course. More people are surviving, but are they thriving? While under-nutrition and its negative health outcomes still plague vulnerable populations worldwide, over-nutrition and its consequences are increasing globally, creating a double burden of malnutrition that requires enhanced research. Low- and middle-income countries are experiencing a growing incidence of overweight and obesity, particularly in urban areas, which has led to an increase in noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Health systems, practitioners, and researchers are often ill-equipped to respond to these challenges. The Nutrition and Global Health Program seeks to understand the full range of malnutrition, its causes and effects, in order to develop new solutions to assist vulnerable populations worldwide in improving public health.
To learn more about the Nutrition and Global Health concentration, click here.
For more information about specific research projects that members of the Nutrition and Global Health Program are working on, click here.
To learn more about upcoming or past events, including our annual symposium, click here.
Inquiries related to the Nutrition and Global Health Program may be directed to Tara Young.