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The Latin American Nutrition and Health Study (ELANS) is a health and nutrition surveillance study…

which includes nationally representative samples of urban populations in eight Latin American countries: Argentina; Brazil; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; Peru; and Venezuela.

A standardized study protocol was designed for ELANS to evaluate nutritional intakes, levels of physical activity, and anthropometric measurements of more than 9,000 enrolled participants, aged 15-65 years. All study sites adhered to this common protocol for conducting interviews, fieldwork implementation, and data collection and management.

In May, ILSI Mesoamerica hosted a series of events in which the principle investigators shared preliminary study results and discussed the potential of the data being generated with a range of groups: academic researchers not involved but interested in the study; health officials from governments; and industry scientists. The collective goal was to introduce ELANS and to explore opportunities to continue and expand the mining, interpretation, and dissemination of the rich information ELANS offers.

Fernando Llorca, PhD, Ministry of Health Costa Rica, opened the first session at which 37 academics and government officials participated along with 18 additional individuals who joined the event by webcast. Dr. Llorca spoke about the importance of regional sharing of information and the fostering of relationships among different sectors of society with the specific goal to improve public health. Twenty-six food and beverage company representatives attended a second session in person, with an additional 56 regional and international participants joining by webinar, to discuss how industry can help support this exciting research.

The ILSI branches in Latin America are playing a major role in bringing all of Latin America closer together.

At its first-ever regional annual meeting in 2016, the region’s branches – ILSI Argentina; ILSI Brasil; ILSI Mesoamerica; ILSI Mexico; ILSI North Andean; and ILSI South Andean – identified specific projects on which to improve cross-geography collaboration. In focusing on ELANS, their efforts have not only achieved this goal but have also generated wider excitement among principle investigators, health officials in different countries, and industry scientists in Latin America, Canada, Europe, and the United States about opportunities to cooperate. As an example, Mexico was not part of the original ELANS countries. However, with encouragement and support from ILSI Mexico, Luis Fernando Hernández, Mexican Foundation for Health, attended the meeting in Costa Rica to interact specifically with the principle investigators on how Mexico might also use the ELANS protocol.

More information about the ELANS event in Costa Rica (in Spanish) is online on ILSI Mesoamerica’s website: ELANS