Is it possible to tackle obesity and undernourishment simultaneously? That’s the question 2017 Research Award Recipient Carly Hayes set out to answer. Peru, she says, “suffers from a double burden of malnutrition: over 59% of the adult population are overweight or obese, while many children in rural areas are stunted or suffer from anemia.”
Peru has carried out a concerted program to reduce stunting in children under five, says Hayes, but efforts to address obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases such as diabetes have been piecemeal and lack overall policy coherence. A debate is underway as to whether the policies that solved one problem could be retrofitted to address another.
Hayes concluded that retooling existing nutrition policies is a viable option, but “these policies shouldn’t take the place of a more holistic nutrition strategy that seeks to create a healthier food environment.”
Hayes’ says the research and fieldwork in Lima, the Department of Cusco, and the town of Ollantaytambo in the high Andes “gave me the chance both to deepen my knowledge of non-communicable disease prevention and to strengthen my skills in logistics and planning, monitoring and evaluation, and communications.”
“I feel that I grew a lot as a researcher, as a professional, and on a personal level throughout my year as a research awardee.”
However, Hayes considers that one of the most valuable opportunities “was the chance to interact with a cohort of awardees who bring a wide variety of experience, knowledge, and skills to the program. Learning from this remarkable group has allowed me to expand my knowledge of 10 international development issues, instead of just one!”