Science Clusters

Food and Nutrients in Health and Disease

Nutrition is defined as “the process of taking in food and using it for growth, metabolism, and repair.” It encompasses both biological (physiological) and behavioral (i.e. food choice) aspects.

The Food and Nutrients in Health and Disease Science Cluster will cover the biological and physiological aspects of nutritional science.

In addition to programs such as scientific conferences, symposia and workshops, Cluster activities will also include primary and secondary research on nutrients intake as well as the relationships between diet and health in Southeast Asian and Australasian countries.

Topics that fall within this Science Cluster would include:

  • Diet, Health Impacts and Disease Risks
  • Macronutrients and Micronutrients Needs and Status
  • Physical Activity and Energy Balance
  • Biomarkers and “omics” Sciences

In addition, another separately funded program under the purview of this Science Cluster is:

  • Technical Committee on Maternal Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN)

Technical Committee on Maternal Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN)

The first 1,000 days of life for infants and young children are very critical. Rapid growth and development during this period require special attention to ensure adequate nutrition and optimal health for both mother and child. Undernutrition has been responsible for 60 percent of the 10.9 million deaths annually among children under five in developing countries. At the same time, overweight and obesity in young children not only affect developed nations but are increasingly prevalent in developing countries, where both under-nutrition and obesity co-exist. The consolidation of relevant scientific information as well as the identification of research gaps will assist in better understanding the key strategies to promote optimal nutrition for mothers, infants and young children.

MIYCN Technical Committee Objectives

  • Improve identification and scientific understanding of issues related to maternal, early childhood nutrition, growth and development
  • Develop and publish scientific documents and provide recommendations to improve maternal, infant and young child nutrition
  • Identify gaps and recommend additional research needed in this area
  • Advocate the utilization of science-based information in the decision-making process and in the design and implementation of health promotion programs

Nutrition and Food Guidance for Public Health

Food and nutrition guidance in the form of dietary guidelines, nutrition labeling, and claims, should be science-based in order to provide reliable guidance for consumers to make informed choices to help them promote optimal nutrition and health. Insights into consumer behavior and perceptions surrounding food, nutrition and physical activity are also essential in developing programs that address public health nutrition.

In order to develop sound dietary guidance for populations, it is critical to accurately assess current food consumption patterns in each country in the region. Sound methodologies and tools such as food composition data are required for dietary assessment, to identify key sources of nutrients and potential deficiencies and excesses, as well as to monitor and evaluate the effects of nutrition interventions.

Topics that fall within this Science Cluster would include:

  • Methodologies and Tools for Dietary Assessment
  • Dietary Guidelines
  • Nutrition Labeling and Claims
  • Functional Foods
  • Food Fortification
  • Science of Consumer Behavior

Food Safety and Risk Assessment

Emerging food- and water-borne pathogens, as well as chemical contaminants, are posing considerable food safety challenges for both ASEAN food authorities and food producers. Greater scientific understanding of these food safety concerns and issues would be important to facilitate the development of appropriate food control measures, as well as to allow for effective communication of the potential risks to consumers.

With much of Southeast Asia still undergoing rapid development, the need to improve food hygiene practices and access to clean drinking water also remain important issues in order to reduce the burden of food- and water-borne diseases. As ASEAN Member States enter the next phase of economic integration through the newly established ASEAN Community, risk-based food safety control measures are becoming increasingly important to satisfy the twin objectives of protecting public health and ensuring fair trade practices in food – both within the ASEAN Community itself as well as between its trading partners. ASEAN Member States are therefore aiming to harmonize food safety standards in line with regional and international standards, such as Codex Alimentarius, and are looking to adopt science-based risk analysis as the basis for developing their national food safety systems.

Topics that fall within this Science Cluster would include:

  • Chemical Food Safety Issues
  • Microbiological Food Safety Issues
  • Risk Assessment
  • Food Safety Risk Management
  • Risk Perception and Risk Communication

Sustainable Food Systems

Increasing food demand over the next decades due to rapid global population growth can be associated with challenges from multiple constraints, including the availability of arable land, shortage of safe water for agriculture and human consumption, climate change and need for ecosystem preservation.

In view of this, ILSI SEA Region is establishing a new science cluster focusing on Sustainable Food Systems to better address the emerging areas of food and nutrition security, sustainable agriculture and food production, as well as the impact of climate change and other risks to agri-food production and supply systems. Topics related to agricultural biotechnology which were previously addressed under the Food Innovation Science Cluster would now be covered under the Sustainable Food Systems Science Cluster.

This Science Cluster will also be aligned with and support the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, where ASEAN Member States are aiming to develop a competitive, inclusive, resilient and sustainable regional food and agriculture sector that is integrated with the global economy; based on a single market and production base; and which contributes to food and nutrition security, as well as prosperity within the ASEAN Community.

Topics that fall within this Science Cluster would include:

  • Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems
  • Sustainable Nutrition Security (SNS)
  • Climate Change and Other Risks to the Agri-Food Supply System