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Applied Nutrition Research

What is applied nutrition research?

  • Applied nutrition research provides a bridge between
  • (a) fundamental research; and
    (b) interventions aimed at improving or solving nutritional problems of developing countries.

  • It starts from observations and/or from results from fundamental or clinical research and then formulates hypotheses concerning the relevance of and the methods for applying such results in the field, in order to prevent, alleviate or correct nutritional problems.

  • It focuses more on how to combat or prevent malnutrition, than on generating new knowledge on what to do (although it also generates new knowledge). In other words it translates the results of fundamental research (conducted in laboratories, hospitals, metabolic units, etc.) into feasible, efficient and acceptable practical action.

Why is applied nutrition research needed?

Applied nutrition research is needed because:

  • The persistence of nutrition problems in developing countries requires interventions, at least in the short and medium term;

  • Many organisations (governments, NGO's, international and bilateral agencies) strive to intervene, either by supplying services to the people or by running programmes and providing funds, food, training, and/or technical assistance;

  • Situations in which malnutrition exists vary widely from one place to another, such interventions tend to be :
    • ill adapted or poorly accepted,
    • ineffective,
    • too costly,
    • insufficiently comprehensive: they tend to ignore certain problems or important factors.

  • In most cases the basic scientific knowledge is available, but it is not applied.

There is therefore a need to:

  • seek how existing scientific knowledge can be applied to the solution of nutrition problems,
  • adapt such solutions to the local circumstances,
  • scientifically test interventions or components of interventions.

The major characteristics of NTW's applied nutrition research efforts

  • NTW's applied nutrition research focuses on the nutritional problems in Africa, Asia and Latin America, different from those of industrialised countries. Such problems are not only expressions of underdevelopment, but also constraints for sustainable development.

  • It is necessarily conducted locally, that is in the country or the region where the problem lies, preferably with participation of the population.

  • It is conducted by trained researchers, belonging mostly to universities or research institutes.

  • It rigorously meets all the criteria of scientific research, from the points of view of both the concepts and the methods it uses.

Recent developments

Please find recent developments under “What we do” the page under "Evaluation".


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