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2017 Global Nutrition Symposium

Nurturing Development: Improving Human Nutrition with Animal-Source Foods

Presented by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), University of Florida

Content: Videos and Presentations

Visit each session to watch individual videos, or watch the full symposium here:

Well-nourished populations, especially women and children, are the central focus of efforts to nurture development and thereby sustainably reduce global hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. This Symposium focused on the role of nutrition in development. It did so by acknowledging the close relationship between good nutrition and other pre-requisites for development, i.e., inclusive and sustainable agricultural-led economic growth and strengthened resilience among people and systems. This is because low agriculture productivity leads to increased malnutrition and vulnerability and undernourished populations that experience frequent shocks cannot take full advantages of opportunities for agricultural growth.

The Symposium, held on March 30, 2017, explored the realities, implications, and impacts of chronic malnutrition, which leads to stunting or reduced height for age. It emphasized that increased attention should be given to understanding and exploiting the benefits and minimizing risks associated with consumption of animal-source foods (i.e., meat, milk, and eggs) by the vulnerable, especially children and women. This is critically important because undernutrition in the first one thousand days of a child’s life can have negative lifelong impacts. The Symposium also discussed ways to increase the availability, access, and affordability of animal-source foods, as well as how strategic messaging on the importance of such foods is critical to increase their consumption. Finally, the Symposium explored how animal-source food consumption and hence development can be fostered by better alignment of donor efforts.

Session I. Malnutrition: Challenges and Pathways to Solutions

Nutrition, sustainable agricultural-led economic growth and strengthened resilience are the cornerstones of the new US government’s Food Security Act, approved in 2016. As part of US government’s Feed the Future Initiative, the Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems conducts research for development that is focused on improving human nutrition and health through consumption of animal-source foods in order to address the challenge of malnutrition in developing countries. Stunting, a widely-used measure of chronic malnutrition, affects about 25% of children (159 million) under five globally and is associated with decreased survival rate, impaired cognitive and motor development, reduced economic productivity, and higher adult poverty. Therefore, concerted worldwide efforts are focused on reducing stunting among under-fives by 40% before 2025. Livestock production can contribute to alleviation of stunting directly through animal-source food consumption, and indirectly, through improved incomes and livelihoods.


Session II. Benefits and Risks of Animal-source Food Consumption: The Evidence Base

Clear evidence of the benefits of animal-source food consumption by children and pregnant and lactating women have been well documented. These benefits are due to their higher protein quality than plant foods and high concentration of important bioavailable micronutrients like vitamins A and B12 and iron, iodine and zinc, which are critical for growth, neurological function, immunity, etc. These benefits, however clear, should not detract attention from the need to address risks of consuming animal-source foods including those associated with food-borne pathogen and mycotoxin ingestion.


Session III. Alleviating Key Constraints, Taking Advantage of Major Opportunities: Strategies to Increase Animal-source Food Consumption and Safety

Effective intervention strategies are developed when innovative research for development entails integration of the best relevant science with knowledge acquired from development experiences. This session brings these two sources of knowledge together through focused discussions on how to reduce malnutrition with animal-source foods. The extensive and wide-ranging experiences of the working group leaders will facilitate identification and discussion of proven and scalable technologies, practices and approaches that improve acceptability, availability, access, and affordability of animal-source foods.

Moderator: Dr. Geoffrey Dahl, Leader, Animal-source Food Production and Marketing, Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems and Chair, Department of Animal Sciences, UF/IFAS

Presentations by panelists, followed by four working groups led by the panelists, with emphasis on identifying research issues and scaling opportunities.


  1. Appropriate messaging to increase animal-source food consumption
    Dr. Ashley Aakesson, Social and Behavior Change Advisor, USAID SPRING Project
  2. Improving availability of animal-source foods
    Dr. Khieu Borin, Director General, General Directorate of Local Community, Ministry of Environment, Cambodia
  3. Improving access to animal-source foods
    Dr. Sam Thevasagayam, Agricultural Development Deputy Director for Livestock, Gender and Nutrition, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  4. Making animal-source foods more affordable
    Mr. Pierre Ferrari, President and Chief Executive Officer, Heifer International

Session IV. Aligning Donor Efforts for Greater Impact

Livestock research and development have been underfunded by developing country governments and donors for many years. This trend is now changing because of the growing demand for animal-source foods and greater awareness of the potential of such foods to improve the nutrition, health and livelihoods of the poor. Donors have also increased funding for livestock sector development in developing countries in recent years. This session will consider how such efforts should be aligned and coordinated for greater reach, effectiveness and efficiency.

Moderator: Dr. Sandra Russo, Leader, Human and Institutional Capacity Development, Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems and Director, Office of Global Research Engagement, UF International Center


Four presentations followed by a panel discussion.

  1. Dr. Franck Berthe,
    Senior Livestock Specialist, Agriculture Global Practice, the World Bank and Coordinator, Livestock Global Alliance
  2. Dr. Robert Bertram,
    Chief Scientist, Bureau for Food Security, USAID
  3. Dr. Bill Weldon,
    Director of Research and Development (Retired), Elanco
  4. Dr. Sam Thevasagayam,
    Agricultural Development Deputy Director for Livestock, Gender and Nutrition, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Dr. Iain Wright, Deputy Director General, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)


Finalized and Revised Speaker Presentations

Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems is part of Feed the Future

This work was funded in whole or part by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Resilience, Environment and Food Security under Agreement # AID-OAA-L-15-00003 as part of Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems. Additional funding was received from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation OPP#060115.  Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed here are those of the authors alone.