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Double Burden of Malnutrition

University of Potsdam; Potsdam, Germany: September 24-29, 2012

Under the patronage of the Federal Minister Niebel internationally recognized opinion leaders from developing countries discussed eminent problems of malnutrition on public health and its implications for economic and social conditions. With its political endorsement, the event intended to rise political and social awareness of national opinion leaders from government, non-governmental organizations, industry and academic to this very challenging international problems.


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Nutrition status is a key indicator of poverty and hunger, poor health and inadequate education and social conditions. Malnutrition - also called the hidden hunger – is one of the most important constrains to achieve the Millennium Developmental Goals (MDG's) since good health, cognitive development, and productivity cannot be achieved without a balanced nutrition.

An increasing number of developing countries must shoulder a "Double Burden of Malnutrition". This describes the persistence of undernutrition, especially among children, along with a rapid rise of overnutrition and related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and coronary heart disease in developing countries. In Egypt for example, the number of overweight children outnumbers already the number of underweight children. The growing burden of non-communicable diseases is associated with a substantial rise in public health and social expenditures. Given current economic and social trends, observed changes in dietary patterns are likely to continue and - combined with changes in lifestyle, particularly the decrease in physical activity - will exacerbate emerging problems of overnutrition and diet-related chronic diseases in developing countries.


The challenge for professionals involved in research and development was to design and create locally adapted solutions for the specific needs of their country. To this end the Institute of Nutritional Science at the University of Potsdam has developed a training program, which focused on:

  • Prevention and Communication
  • Diagnostics and Deficiency
  • Intervention and Treatment

The interdisciplinary event aimed not only to advocat evidence based approaches, but also revealed the consequences of ignoring the crisis and to integrate all sectors of society.

Highlights and Advantages

The participants were offered incentive talks given by numerous experts followed by interactive workshops, which focused on setting the scene, filled the knowledge gap, and finally approached the problem of hunger and diet-related chronic diseases in develping countries.

The Potsdam Summer School of International Nutrition: "Double Burden of Malnutrition" promoted an interdisciplinary exchange between the participants in the field of nutrition, facilitated international scientific cooperation and qualified the participants in the field of international nutrition, with specific emphasis to the emerging double burden of under- and overnutrition in developing countries.

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