A Note From Our Principal Investigator
As the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world around us, it has also made clear that food and nutrition are as critical as ever.
Intersecting topics include, for example, the burdens of hunger and food insecurity; major diet-related comorbidities for hospitalization and death from COVID-19 such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and heart disease; and insufficient surveillance on and coordination of food production and supply chains. These global strains and challenges have been further laid bare and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each of these challenges is also an opportunity. This is a pivotal time in history—one in which we must leverage research and policy to create global nutrition security for all people.
With the unprecedented economic shutdowns, tens of millions of individuals and families across the globe have been left without wages and struggling to feed themselves. Food supply chains are being disrupted at multiple levels, from farming to transport to processing and packaging to international trade. COVID-19 has left no corner of the global food and nutrition landscape untouched.
Our collaborative research with you, our Corresponding Members and other partners, to understand what people around the world are actually eating is more important than ever. The Global Dietary Database remains the world’s best overall resource on individual dietary intakes globally, not only nationally but also by age, sex, education, and urban or rural residence. We must together assess how best to leverage this unparalleled resource to identify opportunities to lessen the burdens of the current pandemic: for example, to identify and document populations at special risk for nutrient deficiencies, hidden hunger, lack of affordable food access, food waste, and diet-related metabolic illnesses, and the intersections of these issues with farming, trade, food prices, and more. Research on metabolic risks like diabetes and hypertension, for example, can explore and inform how these patients might be better protected from the poor COVID-19 outcomes illuminated in this pandemic.
In the coming year, we aim to further grow and leverage partnerships with academic institutions, governmental bodies, and NGOs to pursue innovative research that will inform translational solutions to the food and nutrition challenges highlighted by COVID-19 equitable, and cost-effective strategies for universal challenges. And, as we generate robust findings to help make data-driven decisions, we must never lose sight of the human aspect of this pandemic and its crippling effect on the economic resilience of farmers, rural communities, restaurants, and low-income and other vulnerable populations.
I hope you see your own interests in these words, because it’s going to take our collective insights and efforts to investigate and solve these problems.
Thank you all for your continuing contributions and collaboration in our work to further develop and disseminate the most comprehensive data on dietary intakes in the world. The Global Dietary Database is a crucial tool for elucidating complex and urgent questions around food and nutrition faced by societies worldwide.
On behalf of the Tufts GDD team and entire GDD community, we hope you are staying safe and healthy.
Dariush (Dary) Mozaffarian, MD DrPH