Nutrition Through the Life Cycle: More Than Just a Matter of Food^


^Sustainable Food Systems Track course

Instructor: Dr. Melanie Uhde

Fulfills requirement: Nutrition and Health/Hunger (NHH) OR Tools (T)
Day: Tuesday
Dates: Oct. 9, 16, 23, 30, Nov. 6 (Module 2, 5 sessions)
Time: 6:10 – 8:10 PM
Room location: Schermerhorn Extension 652
Course number: ENVB 0391 N

Course Description

The Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by 193 countries in 2015, set 169 targets to achieve sustainable development by 2030 through integrative action. Malnutrition has been recognized as a critical goal of attaining global sustainable development. The recent “Global Nutrition Report” of 2017 summarized the scale of the Triple Burden:

  • 200 million children are undernourished regarding calorie deficiency
  • 4.4 billion people including children are overweight or obese
  • 2 billion people are deficient for essential micronutrients such as vitamin A

Malnutrition affects the sustainable development of nations in different ways and has high economic costs in both the short and the long run. It is estimated that malnutrition costs up to US $3.5 trillion per year to the global economy, prompting the design of national and international strategies to address this problem. And yet, implementation of such strategies remains a challenge due to a lack of evidence on how well these policy and program interventions contribute to sustainability.

This course will examine the global nutrition challenges through the lens of a conceptual framework that views malnutrition as a multidisciplinary and complex problem. We will analyze the interconnectiveness between nutritional requirements throughout the life cycle and socioeconomic factors such as education, gender bias, and disease burden to evaluate nutrition interventions in regard to their effectiveness in tackling malnutrition. Examples of social safety programs and school feeding programs in the United States, Brazil, India, and Ethiopia will help students understand the content and methods necessary to design evidence-based and integrative nutrition interventions that can contribute to the achievement of global sustainability.

About the Instructor

Dr. Melanie Uhde is an Associate Research Scientist at the Columbia University Medical Center where she leads research projects on the link between nutrition and immune responses in autoimmune and infectious diseases. Her primary interests are nutrition programs, socioeconomic factors such as gender and education that intersect with nutritional interventions, and evaluation methods to implement effective policies. She has worked with non-profit organizations in Jamaica and Thailand and published policy memos on the effectiveness and economics of nutrition programs with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. In 2017, she founded the Urban17 Initiative that aims to identify and communicate innovative solutions to urban challenges in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through a multidisciplinary systems approach. Dr. Uhde is a member of the SDG Initiative at the New York Academy of Sciences and serves as a consultant to identify research gaps in nutrition science to achieve the SDGs and define strategic directions to fill these gaps. She earned a master’s degree in biology and completed her PhD in immunology at the Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg, Germany.