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UK-Peru: Relationship between food, nutrition and health

The MRC, BBSRC, AHRC, ESRC and Peru’s Consejo Nacional de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Tecnológica (CONCYTEC) are pleased to invite research proposals to the UK-Peru: Relationship between food, nutrition and health call through the Newton Fund.

This initiative will provide funding for high quality three-year collaborative research projects focusing on the relationship between food, nutrition and health in Peru.

In total, up to approximately £5 million will be made available for this initiative: up to £3 million of UKRI funding; and up to 9,000,000 Sol (approximately £2 million) from CONCYTEC.

Workshop outcomes

The UK-Peru Workshop: Relationship on Food, Nutrition and Health took place on 22-24 May 2018 in Lima, Peru. The primary objective of the workshop was to provide UK and Peruvian researchers the opportunity to discuss ideas for research collaborations through discussions and networking.

The event comprised of presentations from the funders, Medical Research Council (MRC) in partnership with Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Peru’s National Council of Science, Technology and Technological Innovation (CONCYTEC) as well as from both UK and Peruvian researchers who were given the opportunity to present their research organisation and their interests. You can view the presentations below.

During facilitated breakout sessions, the workshop attendees identified a (non-exhaustive) number of research questions of importance for Peru:

  1. Anemia in Peru:
    1. What is the underpinning biology (gene vs environment, and impact of microbiota)? What constitutes anemia for high altitude Andean communities?
    2. What is the best intervention for Peru? Should interventions be regionally specific? When should intervention take place? How do you ensure these are culturally sensitive/appropriate?
    3. How do socio-cultural factors affect prevalence rates?  
  2. Malnutrition in Peru and the increase in obesity.
    1. How, why and where are diets changing in Peru and who does this affect the most?
    2. Interaction between the gut microbiome and health and what is the impact of diet diversity (or lack thereof)?
    3. How might you modifying food choice, portion size, or ensure supplementation adherence?
    4. Which intervention and policies are best adapted in Peru to address multiple forms of malnutrition (obesity, NCDs & anaemia)?
  3. How might you drive behavioural change:
    1. Use of technology and applications to increase diet awareness
    2. Cultural drivers of diet and behaviour
    3. At what level should interventions take place? Population or family level (or both).
  4. Development of culturally relevant, acceptable, crops (and food products) with better nutritional values (e.g. Fe and Zn). Improved utilisation of Peru’s biodiversity.   
  5. Are there lessons to learn?:
    1. What lead to the decrease in stunting in Peru?
    2. What interventions has Peru utilised (iron supplements, fortified flour) and how successful have they been?
    3. What interventions have worked in other countries or regions which might have relevance to Peru?

The workshop attendees also identified a number of barriers to success:

  • Geographical and cultural diversity of Peru: one size solutions may be unlikely to be widely acceptable
  • Diversity of diets across Peru, but also the lack of diversity in some diets
  • Peru lacks an up to date diet and nutritional survey
  • Any intervention must be low cost and regionally/culturally appropriate.