Table of Contents
There is evidence that optimal nutrition is fundamental to human health and in the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) later in adult life. The identification, production and consumption of functional foods worldwide can increase health benefits for all who can access and afford such foods subject to advice from nutritionists. Recent meetings organized by the health agencies, give a crucial opportunity to make nutrition a central part of the post-2015 sustainable human and agricultural development agenda. The aim of discussions in these meetings was to provide functional crops and foods to achieve optimal health by prevention of NCDs. It is possible that these efforts might ensure that the goals and targets set in the agenda are adequate to address the many challenges of global undernutrition as well as obesity which are major risk factors of NCDs. In many developing and middle income countries, food security provided by the governments, in one sense understandably, gave least consideration to functional foods supply and the prevention of obesity and metabolic syndrome, resulting in to emergence of NCDs. The Thailand Declaration reiterates commitments to eradicate hunger and undernutrition as well as over-nutrition, and to increase investments in effective interventions such as designer foods and designer crops. However, in planning coherent policies, our past experience on rapidly absorbed, energy-rich processed foods should be taken into account while developing sustainable food systems. The food industry should be educated to exploit the expertise of food scientists and health professionals in designing functional foods taking cognizance of manufacturing and processing. Similarly, agriculture scientists may be actively involved in educating farmers so as to grow cash crops providing functional foods. The aim should be to achieve an increase in the availability of functional foods to an extent, or by a policy, by which such foods are available to poor people at affordable cost to prevent hunger and undernutrition and related diseases as well as NCDs. In addition our efforts might help in developing an international consensus on how to approach the development of new designer foods by farmers and the food industry to produce low-glycemic-index foods. Such efforts may establish an international framework for the prevention of NCDs, so that human susceptibility to these diseases is substantially diminished.
Keywords: diet, functional foods, Western foods, Mediterranean foods, feeding, plant breeding.