Queen's University researchers develop tool to tackle India's dietary epidemic

  • Researchers at Queen's University have helped develop a tool that helps capture data on diet across the nation, which it hopes will help guide healthcare policy.

    India is one of the fastest-growing developing economies in the world today, but its high levels of inequality have led to serious dietary issues at both ends of society. The country faces both extensive malnutrition leading to premature deaths and rising incidence of obesity-related deaths and type-2 diabetes that could be avoided with better diet and exercise.

    Diet-related premature deaths in India are much higher than other nations, but there is currently very little data on exactly how people in the country are eating. The population is growing at a rapid pace and improvements in healthcare are increasing the proportion of older people in the country, which will lead to a rapid increase in food demand and make accurate diet data far more important.

    Researchers at Queen’s University have now teamed up with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the University of Southern California to develop a dietary data-capture tool that it's hoped will combat this issue. A pilot programme was funded by the Department from the Global Challenges Research Fund and carried out with adults aged 45 years and older, with positive results.

    Queen’s University Belfast Lecturer Dr McEvoy explained the importance of the work: "As the population is set to increase, the double burden of malnutrition will become a bigger challenge. It is vital that we begin to collate this data now at a national level, so that we have the knowledge to inform healthcare policies and healthcare planning around this epidemic. The next stage of our research will be to test the feasibility of the diet measure on a wider scale."

    Dr A.B Dey, Professor and Head Department of Geriatric Medicine All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, noted the unique challenge of collecting data across India: "Interpretation of nutrition research is as complex as the cooking in India where the dialect and the diet change every 100 miles. Is it possible to develop a tool which can capture the dietary pattern across the country?"

    Source: Queen's University Belfast

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