Department Hosts Urban Nutrition Expert

Urban Nutrition Expert giving lecture

Posted in News Story

Dr. Marie Ruel, Director of Poverty, Health and Nutrition at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) spoke with the Georgetown community earlier this year. Through presenting the new IFPRI research program “Urban food systems for better diets, nutrition and health”, Dr. Ruel addressed the changing landscape of diets in urban areas across the globe. 

Dr. Ruel demonstrated how urbanization is increasing globally, with particularly high growth rates expected in Africa and Asia in the coming decades. Along with demonstrated population shifts from rural to urban areas, the burden of malnutrition is moving and creating new challenges to food environments. Dr. Ruel presented “nutrition transition” in urban areas and how it is highlighted by large economic disparities, resulting in the urban poor suffering all forms of malnutrition such as stunting, wasting and obesity. Malnutrition in this setting is characterized by a change in individual diet from traditional to more modern. Often accessible, affordable and convenient urban diets are often the most unhealthy. Through examining both supply and demand factors for these changes and effects, Dr. Ruel provided a comprehensive picture of drivers for increased urban malnutrition. 

After clearly illuminating the issue of urban malnutrition, Dr. Ruel concluded her talk with a brief presentation of current research gaps on urban diets. From a dearth of data on consumer choices to methods and tools to accurately measure food environments, Dr. Ruel clearly advocated the need for a broader evidence base for effective action on urban food systems and diets globally.  

The Georgetown Urban Health Collaborative was excited to host Dr. Ruel and thanks her for bringing together students, researchers and faculty from a range of Georgetown schools to better understand such a pertinent, timely and far-reaching issue that is urban food systems. 

The Collaborative is housed in the Department of International Health.  Launched in 2017, the UHC aims to champion urban health research & development in cities around the world and the Washington, DC area.

Dr. Alayne Adams, Dr. Marie Ruel, and Dr. Myriam Vuckovic.
L-R: Dr. Alayne Adams, Dr. Marie Ruel, and Dr. Myriam Vuckovic.