When you hear the term “malnutrition," what comes to mind?
Often, we see malnutrition as a problem facing the developing world, where access to a variety of fresh, safe foods is limited. In a nation like the United States, where access to food is almost guaranteed, it would seem the issue is nearly nonexistent.
Truth is, malnutrition happens everywhere in the world, and is prevalent in the United States.
While many Americans receive sufficient food in caloric terms, millions of people in the United States are undernourished, lacking vital micronutrients that are necessary for proper physical and mental development.
In other words, a well-fed population isn’t necessarily a well-nourished population—a common misconception noted in the SupplySide Boardroom Journal’s, “A World Without Hidden Hunger."
To tackle this issue, in December 2014, Global Health Corps (GHC) and DSM held a press conference with Barbara Bush, CEO of GHC, Hugh Welsh, president of DSM North America, Newark Municipal Council President Mildred Crump and Jim White, executive director of Covenant House New Jersey.
Two GHC fellows, working in conjunction with Covenant House and the Boys & Girls Club of Newark, discussed how their fellowships, made possible by DSM, are helping raise awareness about malnutrition and delivering cost-effective interventions to address micronutrient deficiency among underprivileged families in Newark, New Jersey.
The fellows interact daily with members of the Newark community and witness firsthand the growing issue of micronutrient deficiency in the United States. In addition to micronutrient deficiency, the GHC fellows funded by DSM confront issues such as access to healthcare, maternal and child health and hunger.
“To date, 450 GHC fellows have helped tackle some of the most challenging health problems we face," Bush said. “And as much as we are proud of our work in Africa, it is equally important to focus on the health disparities we face here in the United States. Our partnership with DSM, the global leader in nutrition, is helping to address complex health challenges for families here in Newark, including nutrition, which facilitate overall wellness and the opportunity to reach their full potential."
For children, micronutrient deficiency, also dubbed hidden hunger, is especially detrimental. According to recent studies by Journal of Nutrition, more than half of American children do not get the average requirement of essential vitamins for healthy development. Deficiency impedes a child’s physical and mental growth, which can lead to serious, long-term consequences. In addition, undernourished children are more likely to suffer from illness as a child, which can negatively impact performance in school.
Shifting patterns of diet and lifestyle are also contributing to poor nutrition in the United States—while we know what we should eat, consumers often don’t have the time or resources to eat meals that fully satisfy nutritional needs.
Functional foods are a great resource for consumers as they can offer much-needed nutrition, good taste and convenience. And according to a recent report from Nielsen, consumers are turning to functional foods to address health concerns.
The report notes 36 percent of global respondents rated foods that are high in fiber as very important, and about three out of 10 seek foods that are high in protein (32 percent), have whole grain (30 percent) or are fortified with calcium (30 percent), vitamins (30 percent) or minerals (29 percent) to fill their nutritional needs.
Also in 2014, DSM sponsored the launch of “World of Nutrition," an online portal that explores the latest science and research and offers marketing insights across five key health and nutrition platforms: cognitive health, digestive health, eye health, heart health and performance nutrition.