Nuclear techniques in nutrition

Body Composition
Bone Mineral Density
MAM Symposium 2014
Total Energy Expenditure
Human Milk Intake
Vitamin A Body Pool Size
Iron Bioavailability
IAEA Nutrition Factsheets, Brochures & Multimedia Material
Peer-reviewed publications & useful links

IAEA Video - Promoting Better Nutrition in Morocco With Nuclear Techniques

Producer: Louise Potterton, Video Editor: Petr Pavlicek

IAEA Bulletin on Nutrition
This Bulletin describes why the IAEA is involved in nutrition. It explains how isotopes techniques work and can help design better nutrition interventions. In addition, it provides examples of how the IAEA is supporting Member States in the use of stable isotope techniques for their nutrition programmes.

Good nutrition is central to development. Unfortunately, slow progress toward reduction of neonatal deaths and maternal mortality rates is likely to prevent many countries from achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and can be substantially attributed to the global health problem of malnutrition. Effective nutrition interventions are urgently needed to improve maternal and newborn health.

The IAEA’s work complements the work of other UN agencies, NGO’s and other major players in nutrition and health by encouraging use of nuclear techniques to develop and evaluate interventions to combat malnutrition in all its forms. These nuclear techniques, in particular stable (non radioactive) isotope techniques, add value by improving the specificity and sensitivity of nutritional evaluations such as the assessment of body composition, bone mineral density, total daily energy expenditure, intake of human milk in breastfed infants, vitamin A status, and bioavailability of micronutrients from foods (see IAEA Nutrition Factsheet). Although stable isotope techniques have been used as research tools in nutrition for many years, the application of these techniques in programme development and evaluation is a relatively new approach where the IAEA has a unique opportunity to contribute technical expertise. The IAEA has fostered the more widespread use of these techniques in Member States through support to national and regional nutrition projects via the Technical Cooperation Programme and through Coordinated Research Projects addressing priority areas in nutrition over many years.

During the last few years, nutrition at the IAEA has focused on priority areas related to improved nutrition to achieve the MDGs (#1,4,5 and 6); i.e., maternal, newborn and child health as well as infectious diseases in close collaboration with relevant partners, in particular the World Health Organization. Other examples of activities in nutrition at the IAEA include support to the International Malnutrition Task Force (jointly with WHO, UNICEF, the International Paediatric Association and the International Union of Nutritional Sciences) to address severe acute malnutrition in young children as well as work on sustainable, food based strategies to combat micronutrient deficiencies by biofortification of staple foods in collaboration with HarvestPlus.

In 2010, St John’s Research Institute, Bangalore, India has been designated the first IAEA Collaborating Centre for Nutrition. The Institute´s research focuses on nutrition as well as on infectious and lifestyle-related diseases, and is an excellent example of a centre where stable isotope technique is being used for nutrition-related research and programme evaluation.

This website provides easy access to IAEA documents on nuclear techniques in nutrition and will be updated as additional documents as well as e-learning modules become available.

Additional links:

IAEA news centre for human health and nutrition
IAEA web site for the nutrition and environmental studies section
IAEA Annual report for 2013

IAEA Coordinated Research Projects in nutrition
IAEA Technical Cooperation