nutrition (6)

9390426074?profile=RESIZE_710xKEY FINDINGS

1 Despite vital emergency measures in place, more people are food insecure now than before the pandemic.
• Pre-pandemic, we saw a rising trend in levels of household food insecurity.But Covid-19 has left more people than before struggling to afford or access a nutritious diet. Emergency interventions appear to have prevented the situation from worsening in recent months but turning off the tap of support risks seeing elevated levels of hunger and deprivation becoming the new normal.
• Despite community and voluntary sector groups heroically stepping in to help millions of vulnerable people, our evidence shows too many food insecure households have struggled to access support. Reliance on overstretched food banks and food aid charities is not a sustainable safety net for individuals and families who can't afford a decent diet. 


2 Households with children have been hit hard, with many children still falling through the cracks in support.
• Households with children have consistently found it harder to put food on the table, particularly lone parents, large families, and low-income families. Recently, slight improvements in levels of moderate/severe food insecurity among households with children suggest targeted policy interventions have mitigated a significant deterioration. But children reporting experiences of mild to severe food insecurity had not improved this January (2021) compared to six months ago.
• Free School Meal vouchers have represented a vital lifeline for eligible children and their families during Covid, but a series of issues with provision during school closure left many eligible children unable to rely on a regular, quality meal. Many children not currently eligible for Free School Meals face the daily stress of not knowing where their next meal comes from. An increased number of children reported they or their families visited a food bank
this Christmas compared to during the summer holidays.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
3 Existing support schemes have made a difference, but gaps have meant many people still struggle to eat adequately.

• Covid-19 has deepened the financial hardship faced by lowincome households and has also created a newly vulnerable group who were financially stable pre-Covid. Households are balancing on a financial tightrope, increasing debt and using up savings to survive. With household budgets on a shoestring, the end of the Furlough Scheme and the proposed cut to the £20 uplift to Universal Credit can only increase the challenges faced by individuals and families already struggling to pay their food bills.


4 Covid-19 has dramatically widened inequalities in food security and nutrition.
• Exposure to food insecurity is not equal across all households. Throughout the crisis, BAME communities have consistently encountered disproportionately higher levels of food insecurity compared with white ethnic groups. Comparing our data to before the pandemic, inequality in food insecurity has widened between those from BAME backgrounds and white ethnic groups.
• Adults with disabilities have also consistently been more acutely affected by food insecurity during the pandemic compared with those without disabilities. Our most recent data show people with severe disabilities have five times greater levels of food insecurity than those without.
• Despite undertaking essential work like stocking our grocery shelves, food sector workers have reported much higher levels of food insecurity than the general population.

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The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting food and nutrition security through economic and social systems shocks, food system disruptions and gaps in coverage of essential health and nutrition services. Food systems in low- and middle-income countries must adapt and strengthen food and nutrition security in the wake of COVID-19.

Food insecurity, deteriorations in diet quality, micronutrient deficiencies and other forms of malnutrition stem from fundamental, complex and dynamic changes in our food system9. Despite varying burdens and differential mitigation responses to SARS-CoV-2 across the globe, the impacts on national, regional and local food systems have consistently resulted in job losses, income shortfalls and food shortages.

To read the article, click here: Food systems, diets and nutrition in the wake of COVID-19

 

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People on a low-fat, plant-based diet ate fewer daily calories but had higher insulin and blood glucose levels, compared to when they ate a low-carbohydrate, animal-based diet, according to a small but highly controlled study at the National Institutes of Health. Led by researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the study compared the effects of the two diets on calorie intake, hormone levels, body weight, and more.

“To help us achieve good nutrition, rigorous science is critical − and of particular importance now, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, as we aim to identify strategies to help us stay healthy,” said NIDDK Director Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D. “This study brings us closer to answering long-sought questions about how what we eat affects our health.”

To read more, click here NIH study compares low-fat, plant-based diet to low-carb, animal-based diet

 

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8060374068?profile=RESIZE_710x Food Standards Scotland’s updated Situation Report – The Scottish Diet: It Needs to Change 2020 highlights the ongoing challenge for people in Scotland to have a healthier diet, including new exploration of the out of home environment, such as food bought ‘on the go’, and from deliveries and takeaways.

It is important to note that this data was captured prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and therefore provides a baseline for further investigation on its impact on diet in Scotland.

The report shows that:

  • There continues to be a lack of progress towards the Scottish dietary goals and improving obesity and diet related poor health
  • Two out of three people in Scotland remain either overweight or obese, with a higher proportion of people living with obesity in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived
  • We continue to buy a lot of discretionary foods and drinks, such as confectionery, cakes, biscuits, pastries, savoury snacks and sugary drinks from shops and supermarkets, and these tend to be heavily promoted
  • The food and drink we purchase from the out of home environment tend to be less healthy, with fried chicken and burger meals and sides among the top takeaway meals and dishes
  • People in Scotland support the food environment providing healthier food to make it easier to choose a healthier diet.

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  Shane McAuliffe and James Bradfield, writing on behalf of the NNEdPro Nutrition and Covid-19 Taskforce, based in Cambridge, help us to separate    fact from fiction. 

 Given the considerable interest in the role of nutrition throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we recently we wrote a piece in the Cambridge         Independent about how to eat well and support your health during such uncertain times. It seems as though the discussion around what to do, and   what not to do has been never-ending, with reports emerging almost daily suggesting new ways to improve health and potentially   combat susceptibility to infection or its consequences. 

  While this push for knowledge has fuelled important scientific research and discussion, it has also inevitably led to debate about what is fact, what is    fiction and what makes up the grey areas between them. In reality, Covid-19 is a new disease and so our understanding of its interactions, including    those with nutrition, are continually evolving.             

                                                                                           
New evidence that can inform policy and practice is being generated, including in our flagship journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health. In it, we have established a dedicated Covid-19 special collection to help gather emerging research on the relationship between the virus and nutrition, in order to add to what we currently know. In this article, we will outline what this collection has uncovered about the relationship between nutrition and Covid-19 so far.

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A 10-point summary on diet, nutrition and the role of micronutrients

E Fallon, S McAuliffe & S Ray on behalf of the NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition and Health (Design by M Abrantes; Reviewed by E Beck, L Buckner, J Bradfield, D Crocombe, M McGirr & K Martin) 26th March 2020. Correspondence to: info@nnedpro.org.uk

In the wake of the current and unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, on 20th March 2020, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasised the importance of appropriate diet and lifestyle measures including adequate nutrition to protect the immune system. This is of course not a substitute for adherence, first and foremost, to key public health and medical advice on prevention. However, as vast sections of society spend more time at home, it provides an opportunity to focus on strengthening the four lifestyle pillars of sleep, mind, exercise and diet. To elaborate on diet and nutrition, particularly given the variable quality of online information, we have put together a 10-point summary as general guidance: 

1 The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is highly transmissible and can be potentially lethal. Hence any strategies that can prevent or mitigate respiratory infection risk and strengthen overall immunity are critical at this time. 

2 Poor nutrition, due to either insufficient dietary intake of key nutrients or a poor overall diet quality, can compromise immune function and increase overall infection risk. 

3 Micronutrients, commonly known as vitamins and minerals, are required in small quantities but are critical for health and pivotal in strengthening the immune system. 

4 Multiple micronutrients are essential for good immune function, particularly vitamins A, C, D, E, B2 (riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cobalamin) and B9 (folic acid) and minerals iron, selenium, zinc, magnesium and copper (Calder, Carr, Gombart & Eggersdorfer, 2020) and these are found in a variety of foods that form part of a balanced diet in line with national guidelines. 

5 There are a variety of foods rich in vitamins and minerals (see below), in particular fruit and vegetables, which can be fresh, tinned or frozen:

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6 In the United Kingdom, as an example, several micronutrient deficiencies are prevalent as the Government’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey (2019) demonstrates widespread inadequacy in the intakes and/or status of vitamin D, vitamin A (retinol), folate and selenium across the UK population and in specific age groups. This is likely to be mirrored more widely across multiple countries. 

7 Certain individuals are at greater risk of micronutrient deficiency; this includes women of childbearing age, particularly pregnant and lactating women, infants and toddlers, children, adolescents (particularly females), older adults (Maggini, Pierre & Calder, 2018), obese individuals, and the critically ill, plus individuals with inflammatory bowel disease (Kilby, Mathias, Boisvenue, Heisler & Jones, 2019) and other chronic inflammatory and malabsorptive conditions. 

8 In many high risk groups, a balanced diet alone may not be sufficient to meet these requirements and deficiencies can contribute to impaired immune function. This can be due to a variety of factors affecting intakes, absorption and also due to increased utilisation of micronutrients during times of infection. In such cases, the immune system can be supported by micronutrient supplementation particularly to help correct deficiencies.

9 As a key example from the UK, Vitamin D supplementation is recommended at 10 micrograms a day, as per guidelines. The average diet provides less than half of this amount. In fact, Public Health England (PHE) is now recommending that people consider taking a Vitamin D supplement of 10ug throughout the spring and summer as lockdown continues and access to sunlight may be limited. This is of particular concern in individuals in the high-risk category, which includes people who are housebound, living in a care home and those with darker skin. 

10 Overall, whilst COVID-19 is causing inevitable distress to one and all, aside from the impact of the viral illness itself, prevention through social distancing and staying at home can affect both mood and feelings. This may cause depression, anxiety, loneliness and irritability. During these testing times, it is important to remember that eating well, staying hydrated, thinking positively, sleeping adequately and staying active will contribute to both physical and mental wellbeing. Some examples of useful UK resources include:

(i) NHS ‘stay at home’ exercises – https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/gym-free-exercises/

(ii) Doing things for others – www.actionforhappiness.org

(iii) A mental health community pack – https://www.maldon.gov.uk/healthandwellbeing 

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