Since 2010, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition has pursued applied research to support the goals of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative, built institutional capacity for analysis and evidence-based policy in developing countries, and offered scholarships to support individual capacity development through formal degree education in the United States and elsewhere. The Innovation Lab for Nutrition and USAID Advancing Nutrition hosted a webinar series to share the project's research, results, and learning to inform future programming.
Designed to inform and engage stakeholders, this series covered research conducted by the Innovation Lab for Nutrition and its stakeholders over the past ten years. During each webinar, panelists presented findings from their research, discussed policy implications of these findings, discussed what needs to be done to better link research to practice, and identified research gaps for future consideration.
Looking Beyond a Decade of Accomplishments in Nutrition: NIL Legacy Event
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition has spent a decade pursuing rigorous research while also building human and institutional capacity to support USAID programming, as well as analysis and policy formulation across Africa and Asia. Work from the Innovation Lab for Nutrition focuses on countries including Nepal, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique and Bangladesh, Jordan, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Ghana and Ethiopia.
This two-day legacy event, Looking Beyond A Decade of Accomplishments in Nutrition, brought together development professionals, donors, thought leaders and other stakeholders to digest and discuss the accomplishments of the Innovation Lab for Nutrition, highlighting opportunities and implications for ongoing and future programming and policies supporting agriculture, poverty reduction, resilience, and nutrition. The event focused on the research agenda supported by USAID, but also touched on implications for future evidence needs as the world seeks to sustainably transform global food systems. The event also featured a nexus of Nutrition Innovation Lab collaborators and country experts, as well as professionals from the US government and beyond.
The Relationship Between Aflatoxin Exposure and Chronic Malnutrition in Nampula Province, Mozambique
In 2018, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition, along with partners at Universidade Lúrio, ANSA, and INS, conducted a study to examine the association between aflatoxin and height in young children. In this webinar, speakers shared findings from the study, including relationships found between a child’s height and aflatoxin, as well as agricultural and dietary contributors to increased aflatoxin levels. The study report will be available on the Innovation Lab for Nutrition website following the webinar.
Innovative Metrics of Diet Quality in Low- and Middle-Income Settings
Assessing and monitoring diet quality is crucial to improving nutrition, especially in low- and middle-income countries where diets are rapidly changing. This webinar hosted by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition, focused on the double burden of malnutrition and explored current gaps in diet quality metrics as well as potential policy measures for ensuring affordable high-quality diets. Speakers discussed a range of metrics for quality and access, including the Prime Diet Quality Score, the Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women, Mean Adequacy Ratio, and cost and affordability measures. Data from Tanzania, Bangladesh, and other Innovation Lab focus countries were examined.
Role of Micronutrients in Child Growth and Development
Micronutrient deficiencies form a leading global health issue resulting in poor child growth and development outcomes. Inadequate micronutrient intake has been identified as one of the causes, but implementing mitigation strategies at scale remains a critical policy and programmatic challenge. In this webinar hosted by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition, speakers explored research from Nepal and Uganda on micronutrients including vitamin A, iron, folate, and other B vitamins. They assessed the relationship between micronutrient deficiencies in mothers and children, and discussed how evidence-based interventions and nutrition policy can help alleviate micronutrient malnutrition.
Effectiveness of Multi-Sectoral Programming to Improve Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture, Nutrition, and Health: Experiences from Nepal, Bangladesh, and Uganda
Leveraging multi-sectoral programming to improve health and nutrition has gained attention over recent years. Collaboration between sectors has the potential to address many of the root causes of malnutrition. However, multi-sectoral interventions can be complex and difficult to evaluate, and outcomes can be challenging to measure. In this webinar, speakers examined data on multi-sectoral programming from Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition focus countries including Nepal, Uganda, and Bangladesh. They also discussed approaches and best practices for developing evidence-based interventions across agriculture, nutrition, and health, and explored implications and future directions for multi-sectoral strategies.
Mycotoxins, Environmental Enteric Dysfunction, and Inflammation: Implications for Research and Programming on Child Growth and Nutrition
Over the past 10 years, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition has supported research on the role of neglected biological mechanisms in child growth and nutrition, specifically in Uganda, Nepal, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Timor Leste. As a result of these activities, significant research contributions have been made in understanding mycotoxins, environmental enteric dysfunction (EED), and inflammation. Despite this growing body of evidence, charting the way forward toward mitigating these complex risk factors remains a significant challenge in the health and nutrition fields.
This interactive webinar discussed critical research, policy and programmatic implications of unpackaging the effects of mycotoxins, EED, and inflammation on child health, growth, and nutrition.
Sustainable Development of Institutional and Human Research Capacity for Nutrition
Enhancing countries’ institutional and human capacities to identify and address their own nutrition needs and develop successful nutrition research and programs is a key objective of the Innovation Lab for Nutrition's applied research activities in its focus countries. From 2010 to 2020, the Innovation Lab for Nutrition, in close collaboration with in-country stakeholders, academic institutions, governments, and ministries has enhanced institutional and human capacity through long-term graduate level trainings, short-term research workshops, seminars, symposia, and conferences.
In this webinar, hosted by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition, speakers highlighted the capacity development activities conducted in Nepal, Uganda, and India and explored lessons learned and policy and programmatic implications for continued long-term support to develop human and institutional nutrition capacity.
Effective Governance for Nutrition Programming: Lessons from Ethiopia and Nepal
Effective governance is crucial to the implementation of nutrition policies aimed at reducing chronic malnutrition, food insecurity, and micronutrient malnutrition. However, the assessment of governance strategies at both national and sub-national levels has remained a challenging aspect of nutrition programming, especially for multi-sector plans. In this webinar, speakers explored novel strategies for measuring nutrition governance in the context of Ethiopia and Nepal.
The Role of Diet in Early Child Development: Evidence From Nepal
Good nutrition is critical for early childhood development, which has multiple facets including social, cognitive, emotional, and physical development. While stunting in early childhood has been used in the past as a proxy for the measurement of early childhood development, field-friendly tools now exist to directly measure the different facets of early childhood development in low and middle income countries.
This webinar hosted by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition, explored the relationship between household and child factors, including diet quality, consumption of animal source foods, and anthropometry, to the early development of young Nepali children. Experiences administering an early childhood development tool in the context of surveys in rural Nepal were also shared.
Measuring Resilience: Evidence from Nepal, Bangladesh, and Uganda
Building resilience of vulnerable populations is increasingly important for development and humanitarian agencies. To effectively target interventions, rigorous methods are needed to measure resilience at household and community levels.
This webinar, hosted by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition, explored the novel approach to measuring resilience, aiming to distinguish it from other kinds of improvement or recovery over time. Speakers discussed the application of the new metric to nutritional data for women and children from Nepal, Bangladesh, and Uganda, and its value alongside other indicators used to guide agriculture and nutrition interventions.
Assessing Predictors and Metrics of Diet Quality in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia: The Intersection of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Health
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition hosted this webinar which examined the patterns in dietary diversity and quality in South Asian and Sub-Saharan African contexts. Speakers assessed how crop and livestock production influences dietary diversity and its components, how seasonality influences consumption of non-staple foods, and discussed the implications of seasonality for the use of dietary diversity indicators to measure progress over time.
The Malawi Food Composition Database (MAFOODS): Importance, Development Process, Applications, and Future Priorities
The importance of food composition data (FCD) has been recognized as far back as the 1940’s where UK based scientists McCance and Widdowson stated that “a knowledge of the chemical composition of food is the first essential in dietary treatment of disease, or in any quantitative study of human nutrition”. This statement remains highly relevant in the present, and particularly in many African countries where the response to complex problems of food insecurity, undernutrition, overweight/obesity and related non-communicable disease sequelae cannot be achieved without reliable FCD. The rich biodiversity of the African content, diversity in food and food systems necessitates country specific FCDs. Yet, less than half of African countries have reliable up-to date food composition tables (FCT).
This webinar focused on the collaborative effort between the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition, the Lilongwe University of Agriculture & Natural Resources (LUANAR) and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) to develop Malawi’s first food composition table/database. The FCT was developed through an extensive process of data gathering and compilation following methodology endorsed by the FAO/INFOODS international network of food data systems. The Malawian FCT describes the nutritive value of 316 commonly consumed foods and 42 nutrient components that were largely derived from existing data in the country. In this webinar, we will also feature the application of the FCT from the perspective of the Malawi government and nutrition science researchers.
Malawi's First Dietetics Program: Lessons from a Multi-Pronged Approach to Building Human and Institutional Capacity for Nutrition
In the face of the growing double burden of malnutrition in Africa, Malawi became one of a handful of countries in sub-Saharan Africa to develop and implement its own dietetics program, with support from the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition and USAID Malawi. The multi-faceted role that registered dietitians play in improving quality of life through multidisciplinary clinical nutrition care, nutrition programming and policy engagement, in communities and hospitals, is recognized globally. Yet, more than 60% of African countries do not have dietetics training programs, consequently leading to a severe shortage of dietitians in health service delivery.
This webinar hosted by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition, covered the pioneering dietetics program that has led to the genesis of the dietetics profession in Malawi. Speakers shared information about the development, implementation, challenges and future directions for the program. Malawian academic and government stakeholders’ also shared their perspectives on the introduction of dietetics training, as well as the future of the program and the profession in Malawi.
Ecology and Prevention of Linear Growth Faltering in Nepal
South Asia is the region with the world’s highest burden of stunting, housing approximately a third of the world’s stunted children. The persistent, high rates of stunting in South Asia suggest a need to go beyond establishing its prevalence and associated factors, to additionally measure growth faltering (i.e., abnormally low linear growth velocity) to detect its extent, timing, severity and associated antecedent risk factors. In this webinar, we will present work from the USAID Innovation Lab for Nutrition examining trends in stunting in modern Nepal, spanning the past half-century, during periods of decline and pause up to the present time, concluding that innovation is needed to progress further. We will explore and propose evaluating preschool linear growth velocities in a population, introducing the use of a novel, sex-specific, annualized growth reference to reveal the burden of insufficient growth throughout all preschool years.
Novel Metrics to Support Research, Programming, and Policy in Agriculture, Nutrition, and Health: Findings from India, Nepal and Ghana
Emerging global evidence highlights the lack of critical, accurate, and timely data as a major weakness for decision-making around policy and programmatic actions relevant to diets, nutrition, and overall food systems. With rapid and increased utilization of digital technologies by development programs, there is a growing focus on the development of novel metrics that can better support evidence-based policy making. Research supported by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition in low- and middle-income countries explores the use of technologies such as mobile data and accelerometers to assess food security and the relationship of physical activity, energy expenditure and diet quality in specific population sub-groups.
This webinar was co-hosted by USAID Advancing Nutrition and the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition, to learn more about the research findings and policy and programmatic implications from the studies conducted in India, Nepal, and Ghana aimed at generating evidence for sound policy making in agriculture, nutrition, and health.
Women’s Diets, Roles in Agriculture, and Nutrition: Findings from Nepal, Uganda and Tanzania
Women’s roles in agriculture has been widely proposed as key to achieving improved maternal and child health and nutrition. In low-middle income countries (LMICs), rural households depend on agriculture for their livelihood, in which women actively participate, while also being more vulnerable than men to economic and food availability stresses. As large-scale, multisectoral programs in LMICs focus on sustainable agricultural development by considering women’s roles and gender equity in agriculture, it is critical to understand the impact of these programs on women’s empowerment and decision making, production diversity and dietary diversity. Research supported by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition in Nepal, Tanzania and Uganda investigates apparent influences of gender, diversity and specificity of household food production, and food purchasing patterns on women’s dietary diversity and adequacy. Women’s empowerment, in terms of ownership and decision making in cash crops, is examined as a means to improve child and maternal nutrition and health outcomes. Please join this webinar to learn more about the research findings and policy and programmatic implications from the studies conducted on women’s diets, roles in agriculture, health, and nutrition.
Environmental Enteric Dysfunction, WASH, and Nutritional Status of Women, Infants, and Young Children: Findings from Uganda, Sierra Leone, and Nepal
Environmental enteric dysfunction (EED) is a dynamic condition characterized by reduced nutrient absorption, increased gut permeability, and inflammation. It is associated with poor environmental hygiene and contamination, poor water quality, poor hygiene and sanitation practices, and an altered microbiota. Research supported by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition in Uganda, Sierra Leone, and Nepal aimed to test new metrics for EED assessment, examine the relationship of EED, stunting and wasting within the context of poor WASH practices, an altered microbiota, and the presence of contaminants such as mycotoxins. Please watch a recording of this webinar, which was co-hosted by Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition and USAID Advancing Nutrition, to learn more about findings from the studies and to discuss the necessary policy and programmatic actions required to tackle EED and its underlying causes.
Aflatoxins and Maternal and Child Nutrition: Findings from Nepal, Mozambique, Uganda, and Timor-Leste
Exposure to mycotoxins through the diet is widespread in many resource-constrained areas of the world. Additionally, research conducted by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition at Tufts University suggests that aflatoxins, in particular, may be associated with poor nutrition outcomes in infants and young children, beginning in utero. Please watch a recording of this webinar to learn more about findings from studies in Uganda, Mozambique, Nepal, and Timor-Leste and to discuss the necessary policy and programmatic actions required to improve food safety, limit exposure, and improve health.
Animal Source Foods (ASFs) and Child Nutrition in Bangladesh, Nepal and Uganda
Animal sourced foods (ASFs) are nutrient dense foods that when consumed in small amounts provide quality protein, vitamins, minerals and amino acids, and all nutrients critical for growth and development, particularly of infants and young children. While evidence supports the contribution of ASFs in improving the linear growth of children, a better understanding of the long-term effects of the consumption of different ASFs is needed. Please watch a recording of this webinar to examine the role of ASFs in improving the nutritional status of vulnerable populations and receive findings from the Innovation Lab for Nutrition’s studies in Nepal, Uganda and Bangladesh. These included econometric multi-country analyses assessing the role of the type of ASF and the total number of ASFs in supporting optimal growth and development. We also presented analyses and findings on our work in the realm of nutrition-sensitive interventions (e.g. aquaculture and animal husbandry), consumption of ASFs, and nutritional status.
Markets and Infrastructure: The Roles of Market Access in Shaping Diets in Bangladesh, Uganda, and Nepal
Many factors combine to shape diets and maternal and child health. In this webinar co-hosted by USAID Advancing Nutrition and the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition, we reviewed recent research from the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition regarding the role of markets and infrastructure in mitigating nutritional risks. We focused specific attention on findings from Bangladesh, Nepal and Uganda, examining correlations and drivers of dietary diversity, linear growth and weight gain, and nutritional resilience.
Aquaculture-Horticulture Linkages and Innovative Technologies in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition's focus is on aquaculture programming, linked in various ways to horticulture promotion, innovations in drying and storage of products, and behavior change communication. Located in the Feed the Future zone of Bangladesh (the South-West), NIL works closely with local academic institutions, international partners (such as IFPRI), and implementing organizations (such as SPRING) to generate strong empirical evidence of how food choices are made, how diets change, and what impacts are possible on nutrition.
This webinar covered NIL's research, findings, and innovative technologies in the realm of aquaculture and horticulture in Bangladesh. Speakers explained how their efforts contribute to a shared research agenda that ultimately informs policy and programming within the context of USAID and globally.