One ILSI: Global Nutrition Strategy

ILSI’s Global Nutrition Strategy focuses collaborative energy on three objectives.

Contributed by Morven McLean, PhD, Executive Director of the ILSI Research Foundation

The Global Nutrition Strategy (GNS) is a new One ILSI initiative that was first discussed at the 2016 ILSI Annual Meeting to promote renewed inter-branch collaboration on nutrition.  Since then, the ILSI Research Foundation has taken on the leadership of the GNS.  Through a consultative process with the ILSI branches and other key stakeholders, the Research Foundation is working to elaborate the strategy, and leverage expertise and work being done throughout the ILSI network – all to result in outputs that are relevant across geographies, and outcomes that will be measurably impactful.

It is important to emphasize that the GNS is not an umbrella for all nutrition-related activities undertaken by ILSI entities, and instead has a strategic and limited focus on the three GNS focal areas (FAs) listed below. The challenge is to refine these into a programmatic agenda that will achieve ILSI’s scientific and operational goals. This was the topic of much discussion during the 2017 ILSI Annual Meeting.  Thoughtful guidance was provided during a panel discussion that included Dr. Josette Lewis, UC Davis World Food Center, Dr. Penny Morris, Mars Incorporated, and Dr. Clara Rubenstein, ILSI Argentina and that was chaired by Dr. Mike Knowles, a member of the GNS Working Group. Summarized below, this guidance is highly applicable to all One ILSI initiatives, not just the GNS.

FA1: Enhancing understanding of regional dietary patterns – broadly defined to include intake, meal structure, and methods
FA2: Identifying and understanding drivers of food choice – includes methodology for measuring behavior (purchasing and consumption)
FA3: Encouraging harmonization of effective methodologies across geographic regions

Collectively, ILSI entities lead or are involved in programs that cover a broad range of scientific topics, only some of which might be appropriate for a One ILSI effort. So, what criteria should be applied to identify which ones to pursue? First, the subject must be one that will benefit from multi-branch involvement, which means there are synergies to be gained by working together.  Second, an ILSI entity must take on the leadership role, serving as a champion for the initiative to drive it forward as a collaborative effort across ILSI. Third, it must pass the “tripartite test” and truly engage and leverage the scientific expertise of industry, government and academia across the organization to help ensure the highest quality science. Renewed efforts should also be made to reach out to intergovernmental organizations and global non-governmental organizations. Fourth, the initiative needs to result in scalable solutions – tools or research results that can be applied broadly and aren’t limited by context.

Applying these criteria to a carefully curated portfolio of One ILSI programs actively engaged at a regional or global level will be pivotal to increasing the recognition that ILSI is a trusted scientific partner.

The GNS meets all these criteria, with consensus on the fourth achieved through consultations held during the ILSI Annual Meeting in January.  The immediate focus of the GNS will be on food composition and consumption databases, emphasizing practical, scalable projects like best practices for recipe development, and efforts to advance methods harmonization. The topic of adult influence on child eating behaviors will also be explored, looking at research methodologies and frameworks for better understanding these drivers of food choice.

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ILSI News | March 2017
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