Wetenschap - 11 december 2014

Impact of inadequate diet varies from person to person

tekst:
Rob Ramaker

By researching family relationships, scientists are able to establish
more precisely who suffers from an inadequate diet. This was the claim made by new professor Hilde Bras in her inaugural lecture on 4 December. The sociologist succeeds Anke Niehof as professor of the Sociology of Consumption and Households.


Even though there is sufficient  food available worldwide, hundreds  of millions of people in developing  countries still get too little to eat, or a diet that lacks sufficient variety.  Bras’s research shows that  food shortages and the impact they  have vary from one individual to the  next. The key factor in this is family  relations. Vulnerable groups such  as women or children in large families  suffer most. The timing of food  scarcity is relevant too. The harmful impact of a shortage during the early  years lasts a lifetime. 

Bras is particularly interested in  how an inadequate diet gets handed  on from one generation to the  next. She refers to a study by Master’s  student Kristel van Anrooij in  which a link is found between  child marriages and poverty. Marrying  young is often a result of poverty,  but it also leads to poverty  and deprivation. It is difficult to  break this downward spiral, says  Bras. Ultimately, aid organizations  need to be able to target vulnerable  groups much more specifically. ‘You would then get an intervention  which goes into action exactly  when the most harm is done by  undernutrition, so that you can  prevent it being passed on to the  next generation.’  Bras is one of the four Wageningen  members of the Young Academy,  a group for talented young scientists  within the Royal Netherlands  Academy of Arts and Sciences 

Photo: Adrie Mouthaan


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