ZU holds conference on Nutrition and Sustainable Development
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ZU holds conference on Nutrition and Sustainable Development

ZU conference on Nutrition

“Climate has changed and it’s harmful, it’s a threat to our human health,” said Prof Dr Rubina Hakeem, Chief Nutritionist and Head of the Nutrition Department at Ziauddin University. She was speaking at the second international conference on Nutrition and Sustainable Development arranged by The Human Nutrition and Dietetics Department of Ziauddin University (ZU) in collaboration with the Nutrition Foundation of Pakistan (NFP).

The event’s objective was to draw attention to the effects of climate change on food systems and dietary habits and to highlight the crucial role played by Nutrition and Dietetics experts in accomplishing Sustainable Development Goals and endorsing sustainable development.

While continuing her speech, Dr Rubina said that climate change has an impact on our food systems and diets, and our food systems and dietary patterns also have an impact on climate change, as we share the same planet, we need to support global efforts for saving our planet and promoting sustainable consumption in all ways. Consumption of a sustainable diet also leads to health and social benefits thus we all need to strive for promoting sustainable diets.

During her online Zoom session, Dr Sarah Burkharat, a Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics at the School of Health, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia, emphasized the significance of Nutrition and Dietetics (N&D) professionals in achieving Sustainable Development Goals and promoting sustainable development and said “N&D professionals need to be sustainability-focused, but the complexity and ambiguity of sustainability in N&D practice may limit its inclusion in higher education curricula.”

She suggested that obtaining the perceptions of students, academics, and practitioners could be useful in developing a working definition that clarifies sustainability in the N&D context for curriculum development.

Dr Divya Vanoh, Chairman and lecturer of the Diabetics Program at Universiti Sains Malaysia, explained in her online Zoom meeting that food system practices should contribute to the long-term regeneration of natural, social, and economic systems. She suggested “strategies for managing food insecurity via agriculture, such as providing small-scale farmers with affordable, quality inputs, diversifying production, integrating different crops and livestock, providing training to youth, ensuring access to clean water, investing in biodiversity conservation, and adopting a climate-smart approach to agriculture”.

While speaking to the audience Health Economist and Health Policy Analyst Dr Muhammad Asher Malik said that “through my analysis of the nutrition sector and poverty figures in Pakistan, it is clear that our efforts to address malnutrition have been successful. The evidence I presented today, including various graphs and statistics, clearly demonstrates this progress. However, this is not a time for complacency. We must continue to invest in nutrition programs and policies to ensure that we can further improve the situation in Pakistan. The health and well-being of our citizens depend on it.”

Dr Naveed Bhutto, a Public Health Nutritionist, explained that micronutrient deficiencies have become endemic in Pakistan and globally. The “triple burden” of malnutrition includes undernutrition, overnutrition or obesity, and micronutrient deficiency. “Every individual has the right to be free from hunger and malnutrition as nutrition is a human right. Investing in nutrition is a cost-effective driver for development, and reducing malnutrition can increase a country’s overall economic productivity by 11%.”

In her concluding remarks, Pro-Chancellor of Ziauddin University Dr Nida Hussain conveyed her appreciation to the guest speakers who participated in the conference from outside of Pakistan. She expressed excitement about the enthusiasm and warm welcome received by the new department of human nutrition and dietetics, and said that the conference’s goal is to raise awareness and advance knowledge in this field.

Dr Nida emphasized that nutrition is a significant issue, not limited to third-world countries or underdeveloped nations but a problem worldwide, even in developed countries with different types of nutrition problems.

The conference underscored the necessity of adopting a sustainability-focused approach in higher education curricula and food system practices that foster the long-term regeneration of natural, social, and economic systems.

Related: ZEAL Future Enablement Program launched at Ziauddin University

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