OBJECTIVE: This paper explores the unique nutrition transition shifts in diet and activity patterns from the period termed the receding famine pattern to the one dominated by nutrition-related non-communicable diseases (NR-NCDs). The paper examines the speed and timing of these changes; unique components, such as the issue of finding both under- and overnutrition in the same household; potential exacerbating biological relationships that contribute to differences in the rates of change; and political issues.
SETTING: The focus is on lower- and middle-income countries of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
RESULTS: These changes are occurring at great speed and at earlier stages of these countries' economic and social development. There are some unique issues that relate to body composition and potential genetic factors. The significance of the high number of persons exposed to heavy insults during pregnancy and infancy (foetal origins hypothesis) and the subsequent rapid shifts in energy imbalance remains to be understood. Countries that are still addressing major concerns of undernutrition are not ready to address these NR-NCDs.
CONCLUSIONS: The developing world needs to give far greater emphasis to addressing the prevention of the adverse health consequences of this shift to the nutrition transition stage of degenerative diseases.
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